The Los Angeles Lakers took the floor for their 2019 NBA preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors who look very different from just a season ago.
Russell struggled in his Warriors debut with just four points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field and some of that surely had to do with the team’s defense. Head coach Frank Vogel employed a big starting lineup with LeBron James operating as the point guard while Russell had to deal with Danny Green for much of his time on the floor with Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee all lurking in the paint.
The team’s size definitely stood out to Russell as after the loss, he spoke to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, calling the Lakers a ‘fantasy team’ with all of those big men on the floor at once:
“It’s different seeing all those big guys on the floor at the same time,” Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell said. “LeBron playing point alongside those dudes. It’s cool. It looks like a fantasy team or something.”
While much of the NBA has shifted to smaller lineups, the Lakers have done the opposite. With Davis preferring to play power forward, it shifts James back down to small forward.
With Davis and McGee both being very long and mobile bigs, it’s likely to give guards fits when they go in the paint. That length also manifested itself on the glass as the Lakers grabbed 16 offensive rebounds including five by Davis alone.
Of course, the question moving forward will be building the chemistry between the two All-Star players and the rest of the team. Davis has said that he and James are ‘still figuring things out,’ even though the two looked very much on the same page in the preseason opener.
The pick-and-roll with James and Davis is nearly unguardable, especially with McGee also around as another finisher in the paint and Green in the corner ready to fire threes.
It is still only one game (and a preseason one at that), so it is important to keep everything in perspective. Vogel has spoken about being excited for what the Lakers can become, knowing there is still a long road for this team.
Regardless, Russell was definitely affected by the team’s size and the Lakers plan on doing the same to the rest of the guards in the league.