Monday Mailbag: Lakers preseason game one hot takes

Malik Monk scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers in the Lakers’ loss (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers opened up the preseason with a 123 to 97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets after the game was blown open in the fourth quarter. We have a lot of questions about the game to get to, so let’s get started.

I don’t really have takes about Sunday’s switching schemes but in general, I think we’ll see quite a bit of it from the Lakers this year, especially in the regular season. The Lakers have solid depth in the guard and (small) wing departments and most of those guys can defend two or three positions, at least. Switching takes away some of the repetitive contact that can lead to injuries down the line and can keep players fresh while not sacrificing their strengths too much.

Now, you don’t want Russell Westbrook to constantly chase shooters around screens or for Anthony Davis to be stuck on the perimeter where he can’t protect the rim as effectively, but I believe Frank Vogel will have multiple switching schemes to use in various scenarios throughout the season until we get to the playoffs where we might see more matchup-dependent defensive schemes.

This question assumes that Rajon Rondo will eventually bench someone and I understand the sentiment. Rondo did not have a good postseason with the Clippers last season, but he was also seen as washed up and a hugely negative player before the Lakers’ championship run in which he was one of the team’s most valuable performers.

I don’t think we will see a whole lot of Rondo in the regular season. The Lakers have emphasized shooting this offseason, hence a player like Wayne Ellington likely gets consistent playing time. Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk seem to be impressing early and the team has invested a lot in Talen Horton-Tucker and likely expect him to get plenty of run. That said, we know Vogel trusts Rondo in high-pressure situations and, come playoff time, if a player isn’t performing at a high enough level, it would not be a shock to see Rondo back in the rotation.

If that does happen, my guess would be that he displaces Nunn as the backup point guard. I’m not a believer in Nunn’s defense and he might play too recklessly offensively for Vogel to give him the keys to the offense when Westbrook is sitting.

Not only am I okay with it, I think…

That AD has to start at the five. Now, I thought this before the game as well because of the spacing that a starting lineup featuring LeBron James and Westbrook needs but Sunday’s game added an extra bit of reasoning for me: I don’t think the Lakers can survive rotation minutes for both Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.

Howard became a beloved role player two seasons ago but he still has reckless tendencies. He will foul a lot, get technicals and flagrant fouls, and change the rhythm of games with his numerous dust-ups. You can take all of that because usually, he will offer a lot of positives with his screening, lob catching, and rim protection. Jordan, on the other hand, does not offer anything more than Howard and is really only there to be a vertical threat and to grab rebounds, something that Davis and Howard already do at a similar, if not better, level to him.

I think the Lakers are at their best when AD is playing about 30 minutes at the five with Howard getting the majority of the other 18 (with some center-less lineups sprinkled in here and there) and the two of them sharing the court for an additional five to ten minutes depending on matchups. Jordan should just be an option in case of Howard fouling out or being injured.

If that’s not a hot enough take for you then here’s another:

Malik Monk should start at shooting guard. That’s my other hot take after one game. We obviously haven’t seen Monk with the stars (other than a few minutes next to AD) yet but he seems like a perfect fit with that trio. He can knock down open looks, get out in transition as both a lane-filler and a spacer, and, if Sunday is a sign of things to come, he can actually play some defense on the perimeter to help Westbrook out.

The most promising sign from Monk though was his ability to hit pull-up jumpers, something the Lakers have not really had the luxury of having the last few years. If that’s something that lasts the course of the season, it’s a huge weapon for the Lakers. Not only does it provide scoring at a high clip from the guard himself, but it also can clear up space for his screeners as bigs now have to step out to contest his shots. Monk’s partnership with Davis, especially, should be a priority to get developed during the regular season.

The other standouts from game one were the referees who spent an eternity reviewing a play to dole out some extra fouls only to still miss the fact that Howard was supposed to be fouled out and not, in fact, taking free throws. It’s preseason for everybody.

Nevada legend Cameron Oliver was let down by teammates who could do nothing with the numerous second chance opportunities he got them. And he still scored a quarter of the team’s fourth-quarter points. As my Boise State loving colleague, Gary Kester, would tell you, it was a good weekend to be a Wolf Pack fan.

Thank you for all of the great questions this week. As always, you can keep sending in questions at any time, either via Twitter or through our e-mail at

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