NBA: LA Lakers first win against Denver Nuggets – Russ off the bench, key?

Russell Westbrook Off the bench

After a rough start, the Los Angeles Lakers finally get their first win of the season. Not only that, Darvin Ham, the team’s newest head coach, also gets his first dub in his first head coaching job. What makes it more impressive is they defeated a healthy Denver Nuggets team with the reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic leading the way. Though they are currently 1-5 (the current worst record in the West), the Lakers’ first win implies something: Playing Russell Westbrook off the bench could be a key factor in winning games. Could this idea be true? Let’s find out!

Russ is coming off the bench but he is still playing a lot of minutes.

The team needed to make adjustments which included a scenario of him not being in the starting lineup. For most of his professional career, Westbrook has been the centerpiece of a franchise, but not anymore. Though he felt that it affected his health due to not being used to coming off the bench, Russ eventually adapted to the change.

He may not be the starting point guard of the Lakers but at least he is still being played by Darvin Ham for a lot of minutes. Through 6 games, he averaged 30 minutes per game as a backup. With more or less 30 minutes of playing time, Russ can still showcase his abilities on the court and be as effective as he once was.

In the first five games, Russ looked like he lost interest in basketball. But, in their matchup against the Nuggets, he seems to be having fun on the floor.

Not only was he having fun, he certainly looked to have his confidence back again. Those who haven’t played a single game of basketball won’t understand that an ounce of confidence can change the outcome of games. For Westbrook to have fun on the court with his teammates means their chemistry is getting stronger.

Related: NBA Rumor: Russell Westbrook for Kyrie Irving Trade Possible?

Statistically, Russ was the most effective player on the court during the game against the Denver Nuggets.

After flirting with an almost triple-double with 18 points, 8 dimes, and 8 boards, Russ also was impressive on the court by having the highest +/- on the Lakers team. This measuring system is an NBA-based metric analytics to show how valuable a certain player is while he is on the court. Russ having the highest +/- means he is the most valuable player that night, statistically speaking.

Related: NBA: Plus Minus – Explained
Russell Westbrook Plus Minus
Photo Courtesy of ESPN

Russ being benched means Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV are the team’s starting guards. One is a scrapper while one is a very underrated scorer.

Russell Westbrook isn’t the only one that played well during the game against the Nuggets. Aside from LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing at a very high level, one underrated pickup for the Lakers is the 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Lonnie Walker IV.

This season, he is already en route to career highs in all categories: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, and Blocks. Additionally, every time he erupts puts the Lakers ahead which only means he could be an integral factor for the team to win in the future.

Related: NBA: Top 10 MVP candidates for the 2022-2023 season

Despite the hate the whole Lakers organization is getting (especially the team’s big three of James, Davis, and Westbrook) the team still looks very promising.

Photo Courtesy of

Though they did struggle in their first five games, the Purple and Gold still have a great chance to reach the playoffs. They are already a team stacked with perennial talent and the only concern they might have in the future is health. While it is strange for former MVP and a 9-time All-Star to come off the bench, this strategy might just prove to be effective in their next games.

Can the LA Lakers continue winning and reach the playoffs again this season? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. For more content, stay with us, here at Spiel Times.

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Sources: ESPN, NBA, ZH Highlights, AllBall

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