The Los Angeles Lakers debuted a new starting lineup on Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The lineup featured the expected LeBron James and Anthony Davis alongside Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince and the new addition of Jarred Vanderbilt.
The 2023 trade deadline addition replaced D’Angelo Russell after several disappointing performances from the Lakers guard.
Head coach Darvin Ham opted to go with Vanderbilt over Russell to increase the defensive pressure of the starting unit while boosting the offensive firepower of the second unit with Russell, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura.
Reddish spoke about what the goals of the new starting lineup are and why he believes they’ll be successful for a long stretch of time, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“Bringing the energy. Obviously defensively, being able to switch 1-5. I think that goes a long way, especially as you get later into the season. I won’t say it preserves you, but it kind of does. But I think the main part was just bringing that energy and mentality of getting after it defensively.”
For a player like Reddish, who has often found himself on the wrong end of lineup changes over the years, getting to remain in the starting lineup is a huge step for his career. The Lakers forward discussed what it means for him personally to be on the positive end of a lineup change:
“It feels great. To be honest with you, I just try to do my part. I don’t really got much to say about that, I just do my part just like everybody else.”
Reddish has been a surprise contributor for the Lakers this season. When he was brought in on a minimum contract in the offseason, it wasn’t clear exactly what role he would play and if he would be anything more than a reserve who got spot minutes or be an injury replacement.
Instead, Ham showed his faith in Reddish by inserting him into the starting lineup, and the results have been extremely positive for him and the Lakers. Now, Reddish figures to be a central piece of the rotation for the remainder of the season if he continues to play the way he has been.
Darvin Ham likes D’Angelo Russell & Austin Reaves pairing off bench for Lakers
One surprising part of the starting lineup switch was Ham pairing Russell and Reaves back together when struggles early in the season caused the two to be separated with Reaves moving to the bench. However, Ham believes in the pairing more off the bench than as starters, and he explained why.
“Austin and DLo, they’ve had some really good synergy together on the floor. And so that second wave allows us to play a little faster, a little more offensive. I’m looking forward to both, seeing how this starting lineup applies their pressure on the game early and then also see, once we start making substitutions, the variety in which we get things offensively.”
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