After days and days of silly leaks and an unnecessarily elongated process, the NBA released full schedules for every team on Wednesday. While it brings the end to the highly-desired tweets reporting on individual games, it does offer a chance to look forward to the upcoming Lakers season.
The schedule release is one of the first times the new season feels within reach and offers reason to be excited for the tip-off of a brand new campaign. And why shouldn’t Lakers fans be hyped up?
They have a new coach in Darvin Ham who has come in and said all the right things about taking over a team that missed the play-in game last season. Included in that is his commitment to getting the best out of Russell Westbrook, the much-maligned point guard who struggled — to say the least — last season.
Westbrook has expressed excitement about Ham’s hiring as well. That excitement, paired and Ham’s vision of how Westbrook should be used on the court is plenty reason for fans to get excited about the second year of the LA native donning purple and gold.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five games Lakers fans should be excited to see Russ play in this upcoming season.
Nov. 13 vs. Brooklyn Nets
The storylines are aplenty. Russ and Kevin Durant, former teammates, squaring off with one another is always a marquee matchup. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, also former teammates, similarly create headlines whenever they’re together.
Obviously, there are questions about Durant’s future but a player like Irving is talented enough to carry the load and will be an intriguing match-up between the two star-studded franchises.
Jan. 31 at New York Knicks
After landing Jalen Brunson this offseason, it’s time to wonder if the Knicks are officially back. Brunson joins a loaded core that is only a year removed from returning to the playoffs. On top of all that, former Laker Julius Randle has established himself as a core member of the franchise that has paid its role players to stick around and keep winning.
When it comes to Westbrook, the Knicks were one of his better performances last year in Madison Square Garden. Can he replicate that outing again?
Jan. 2 at Charlotte Hornets
On the note of impressive Westbrook games last year, none was better than the one he had in Charlotte. Down Anthony Davis and LeBron James, Russ carried the team with a season-high 35 points — all but five of those coming in the second half — for a near miracle comeback.
There’s also always intrigue in watching the old guard (Russ) against the new guard (LaMelo Ball) as well that will only add to the excitement around this one.
Nov. 4 vs. Utah Jazz
One of the best singular moments of the season last year for Russ was his thunderous dunk over Rudy Gobert. It’s unclear if that dunk started the domino effect that led to Gobert being traded, but there were zero Gobert trades before he was posterized and one after, so the proof is in the pudding.
The question in this matchup will be who will Russ dunk on this season to end their Jazz career?
Nov. 28 vs. Indiana Pacers
Last season, the Pacers game in Crypto.com Arena was one of the first times Russ was benched in the fourth quarter. It was a moment that forced a lot of deep self-reflection and now that Russ will come into this season with a renewed energy and focus, revenge will certainly be on his mind in this one.
Which game are you most excited to watch Russell Westbrook in this season? Let us know in the comments below!