The tweaked hamstring that limited Russell Westbrook to just five minutes in his first game off the bench for the Lakers will not limit him on opening night.
Westbrook has been cleared to play, something first reported by TNT’s Chris Haynes earlier in the day and confirmed by the Lakers before the game. It is not official if he is starting or coming off the bench — coach Darvin Ham would not discuss his starting lineup pregame beyond saying LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in it — but it is expected Westbrook will be the sixth man.
However, the Lakers will be without backup center Thomas Bryant, who “underwent successful surgery today to repair the ulnar collateral ligament on his left thumb,” the team announced.
This is the same surgery that Lakers guard Dennis Schroder just had, and the average recovery time is nearly two months.
Shared this yesterday when Schröder went down and it holds true for Thomas Bryant today. The average time lost for an in-season UCL repair in the NBA is 23.8 games (~ 7.5 weeks). https://t.co/YmMOx8R9h7
— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) October 18, 2022
The Lakers are banking on Westbrook to be a spark plug off the bench, but that means they will need more out of him than they saw in the preseason where he shot 35% overall and 25% on 3-pointers. The Lakers’ offense as a whole struggled in the preseason, and Westbrook unleashed against second units could be one of the fixes for that.
Westbrook and the Lakers don’t get to ease into the season and figure everything out at their own pace, their first five games are brutal: At Warriors, Clippers, Trail Blazers, at Nuggets, at Timberwolves.