The Los Angeles Lakers opened up their shooting guard spot upon trading both Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso. It came as no surprise that Kent Bazemore would look to them as a contender that could offer him an immediate role. To his delight, it’s even an opportunity to start.
The Lakers will have to surround their trio of stars with as many defensive-minded guys as possible. Bazemore fits the bill. After his first stint in Los Angeles, we saw him become one of the league’s hottest 3&D names. It even earned him a deal during the famed 2016 NBA Free Agency for $70 million with the Atlanta Hawks.
It seems that this reputation continues to follow Bazemore. Vogel talked about what he has seen from Bazemore to the media ahead of Wednesday’s preseason game against the Suns, specifically noting that Bazemore has “separated himself some” as one of the team’s best defenders (h/t Silver Screen and Roll’s Jacob Rude).
Given the questions about the second guard position, this is interesting. The Lakers want to maintain a strong defensive identity or something close to it. Starting Bazemore would certainly support that. At the moment, Coach Vogel has used a variety of players at the spot, including Wayne Ellington and Talen Horton-Tucker.
There are still 12 days to figure out what will be permanent. Bazemore has plenty of time to add his shooting as another separator. There’s a lot of work to do in short order due to the Lakers’ departures. It’s a good sign that they are seeing good things early. Bazemore has the chance to continue his immediate impact. If he lets up, it could be the difference between the team bouncing back or suffering last season’s fate.