The preseason has been a somewhat strange adventure for the Los Angeles Lakers. Injuries have taken out Lonzo Ball, Andrew Bogut, Brook Lopez and Brandon Ingram. This has made evaluating the team difficult, and evaluating individuals at each position particularly challenging.
The biggest challenge, however, comes for head coach Luke Walton. With the regular season fast approaching, Walton is being pressed by fans and the media to decide on a starting five for the 2017-18 season. Ball, Ingram, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are a near certainty to fill up three of the five starting spots; this is not the problem. All the confusion is concentrated around the Lakers’ front court, in particular the power forward position.
WHO IS IN THE RUNNING?
Randle has been starting for Walton for a good portion of the time they have been together. Randle has been a solid scorer and re-bounder for the team and is some fans’ obvious choice to start at the four.
Nance Jr. is a favorite among all fans, from kids infatuated by his high-flying dunks, to middle-aged women who love his poise and IQ (and of course his dunks). Nance has actually been starting for the Lakers for some of the preseason and done quite well. In fact, the Lakers’ projected starting Center Brook Lopez, has this to say about it:
“It’s been great we definitely contrast each other very well. A lot of differences that make us good individual players make us an even better tandem.”
Finally, the big surprise out of the University of Utah, Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma has won over teammates, coaches, and fans. He’s done this with his phenomenal displays of scoring and basketball IQ throughout the NBA Summer League and preseason. While Kuzma has yet to show he can score like this in the regular season, he has certainly made a strong case for a starting position.
A FLUID LINEUP?
With the three players above to consider, it is no wonder why Coach Luke Walton is at a loss. However, Walton told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times that the team’s emphasis is not on what position those three guys will play, but how they will handle the responsibilities given to them.
“There’ll be times that Julius might be playing backup 5 and Kuz at the 4. There’s times where Larry might be backup 5, Julius at the 4, and Kuz at the 3. There’s a lot of responsibility, but all they need to do is know that when they’re on the court they gotta play hard and play the way that we want to play and they’ll be fine.”
This could suggest that Walton is thinking of tweaking the lineup throughout the season. The changes would most likely be based on what team the Lakers are matching up with that night, or who has been producing at the power forward.
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