Numerous NBA executives and scouts believe that Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook should come off the bench this season.
Fox Sports' Ric Bucher wrote that "rival executives and scouts" proved to be "nearly unanimous" in thinking both Westbrook and the Lakers would be better off if he guided the reserves.
"It’s hard to see him as anything but a backup for the Lakers," a Western Conference scout told Bucher.
"It’s hard for him to play with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron [James]. It might be OK if they let him go with the second unit. He has to play the only way he knows how unless he can miraculously learn to shoot."
Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and nine-time All-NBA team member, struggled in his first season in purple and gold last year. The 14-year NBA veteran ended the 2021-22 campaign with a career-low 15.0 player efficiency rating, per Basketball Reference.
The Lakers could hypothetically start offseason acquisition Patrick Beverley at point guard and bring Westbrook off the bench.
That would presumably give the Lakers a starting lineup featuring LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and Thomas Bryant. The second unit would consist of players such as Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Lonnie Walker IV.
L.A. could also play Westbrook and Beverley in the backcourt together. New head coach Darvin Ham has reportedly told the tandem that he has lineup ideas pairing the two, per NBA reporter Marc Stein.
Ultimately, the Lakers are looking to shake things up after going 33-49 and missing the playoffs. Perhaps Westbrook ends up coming off the bench, but that's also something he hasn't done since he was a rookie in 2008-09.
For now, all signs point to Westbrook reprising his starting role on a team that saw major upheaval outside the Big Three.