The Russell Westbrook-off-the-bench era is here to stay it appears.
The Lakers’ struggling point guard is expected to run the second unit Friday night against the Timberwolves and for the foreseeable future, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Westbrook — who is averaging 10.3 points on just 29 percent shooting including a ghastly 8 percent from behind the arc — missed Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets with a hamstring injury. He was upgraded to probable Friday morning for the team’s game against the Timberwolves.
The move will end Westbrook’s streak of 1,007 straight appearances as a starter, the third-longest active stretch behind Chris Paul and teammate LeBron James, per ESPN Stats & Information. Westbrook has come off the bench only 17 times in his career, all during his rookie season.
The hope is that a change will also help ignite a woeful Lakers team that has stunk in losing its first four games of the season — with the ball-dominant Westbrook coming off the bench, the thought is it will be a better fit not having him on the floor at the same time as James and Anthony Davis.
With Westbrook and James in the lineup together this season, L.A. has scored just 94.2 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. With James on the floor without Westbrook, they’ve scored 101.2 points per 100 possessions.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are shooting just 42 percent from the floor this season and a brutal 22 percent from behind the 3-point line.
It also won’t be the first time Lakers coach Darvin Ham has experimented with Westbrook coming off the bench. In the Lakers’ preseason finale, he used the mercurial 33-year-old nine-time All-Star and former league MVP in a reserve role as well. Westbrook strained his hamstring, then said not starting was the reason he got injured.
On Friday, the Lakers practiced with a starting five of James, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverly, Lonnie Walker IV and Damian Jones, per ESPN. Davis is listed as questionable for Friday’s game and should he not be able to go it is possible Westbrook could start, according to Wojnarowski.