The Los Angeles Lakers are revamped and ready to go this season. It’s the personnel version of “new phone, who this?” They’ve grown deeper at every position. Their biggest weaknesses have been boosted, as Rob Pelinka has made moves to address their shooting and playmaking. Despite these upgrades, there remains the question of who will be their starters. It’s going to take some great standouts at camp to sort things.
Head coach Frank Vogel is going to have his hands full making these decisions. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook are penciled in as guaranteed starters. Outside of that, there’s at least one backcourt and frontcourt position open.
Recently, Vogel spoke on Spectrum SportsNet’s “Lakeshow” podcast about how many different options he has in mind for the starting lineup:
“It’s not two or three. There really is a vast array, and no decisions have been made. People ask me all the time, ‘are we gonna start AD at the 5? Are we gonna play with two bigs like we did two years ago? What’s it gonna look like?’ And the honest answer is that we don’t know yet. We’re gonna watch these guys play together in camp, measure the pros and cons of certain lineups and find a lineup that we think is going to help us get off to a strong start.”
One would love to drop AD and LeBron down in the frontcourt at the five and four, respectively, as some have speculated. This will allow the Lakers to ease the addition of Westbrook into the team’s new identity. It would also give them the best forward and center tandem in the league, and arguably of all-time.
Reports have indicated all summer that Davis will indeed start at center despite his long-known reluctance to do that. According to a report from The Athletic on Monday that also confirmed the plan to start Davis at the five, Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington are expected to be the other starters alongside the Big Three, with Talen Horton-Tucker also expected to challenge for a starting spot.
Of course, this report comes before training camp and preseason officially starts so it should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, the idea behind such a decision makes sense. Two floor spacers – one of whom is expected to be a crucial wing defender – alongside three stars who will put a ton of pressure on the rim is a pretty formulaic approach to how this will likely play out. Camp will really only serve to show Vogel and the coaching staff which players will optimize that formula.
Whether you want AD at the four, the five, or even the six, you’ll find out soon enough what the Lakers starting lineup will be. Frank Vogel will have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks with opening night set for October 19th.