Two months ago to the day, the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned 2020 NBA Champions. Tonight, they will be opening their season with their first preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers. In a slightly different preseason schedule that has been changed due to COVID-19 concerns, the Lakers will only play four games with the first two coming against the Clippers in their shared arena with the other two against the Phoenix Suns. All four games will be played in the span of the week, with their final game of the preseason happening December 18th against the Suns.
Here’s what you need to know for these upcoming preseason games.
Don’t expect much of LeBron James or Anthony Davis
With the Lakers about to commence the 2020-21 season with the shortest offseason in sports history, we probably won’t be seeing much of LeBron James or Anthony Davis before opening night on the 22nd. Brad Turner of the L.A. Times reported that Frank Vogel spoke to reporters, saying the two will definitely not play in tonight’s preseason opener.
In LeBron’s case, questions are already being directed towards him about “load management” happening during the 72-game regular season. LeBron hasn’t exactly dismissed the idea that he’d be getting some rest along the regular season, lending to credit to the idea that he’d be playing often during these four preseason games. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sat out every single one, other than possibly the last one to get a quick tune-up for the season opener.
Anthony Davis may not be as old as his partner-in-crime, but he’s still the most valued person on the roster not named LeBron James with his health being crucial to their championship hopes. He also has had an injury history throughout his career, so if the game is pointless, he might as well not play. Expect the Lakers to possibly align his appearances in these preseason games with LeBron’s.
We may not see some of the new guys early on in preseason
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis out tonight, you’d probably expect to see plenty of minutes for the new guys (Dennis Schröder, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol). However, with less than a week of practices between the new guys in Frank Vogel’s system, we may not see much of them either. Ryan Ward of Lakersdaily.com reported that in addition to LeBron and Davis being out tonight, Frank Vogel said “some of the new guys are still to be determined”.
Marc Gasol seems the most likely to miss tonight in terms of being the oldest of the bunch, but if Vogel thinks the play on the court with the other guys would be messy due to one of the new guys not being completely up-to-date on their offensive and defensive principles, then Vogel will just sit them. That means…
IT’S TALEN HORTON-TUCKER TIME
Expect a lot of THT in these four preseason games, as Frank Vogel has continued his praise of the 20-year-old as he heads into his sophomore season.
Vogel spoke glowingly of Horton-Tucker in the bubble games, using him here and there in the eight seeding games and even using him in key moments of their early playoff series against the Trail Blazers and Rockets. With LeBron, Davis, and some of the newer veterans possibly resting on the sidelines, expect THT to be unleashed on the Clippers and Suns. He may end some of the games with some gaudy statistics as I’m sure Vogel will not hesitate to let the extremely young player roam free as he is pretty good at getting his own shot on the offensive end. Also, expect plenty of playing time for Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antekounmpo while the old guys sit.
Lakers basketball is BACK! We’ll see you tonight for the 7:00 p.m. PST tip-off.