The Los Angeles Lakers had an extremely busy offseason making personnel changes that would add extra depth to their roster.
All four newcomers, Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol, have already shown they have a lot to offer after joining the defending NBA champions. Schroder and Harrell in particular proved they can successfully take some of the offensive responsibilities off the shoulders of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
However, the team still is a work in progress and the players, as well as the coaching staff, are trying to figure out the most efficient rotations. One lineup featuring LeBron James, Matthews, Kyle Kuzma, Harrell and Markieff Morris has particularly struggled this season, registering a disastrous -29.7 net rating.
Nevertheless, this specific five-man lineup — offering the Lakers a significant size advantage — has played in nine games already, spending a total of 49 minutes on the floor. “That’s not an ideal lineup but a lot of times the game plays out where I’m trying to get guys the minutes they deserve to impact our team,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained.
“Sometimes it results in imperfect lineups, but that sample size is extremely small.”
The lineup failed spectacularly in the 115-113 loss to the Golden State Warriors with Vogel giving up on the formation after just four minutes. “We had trouble with that lineup in the Golden State game because of how small they went,” Vogel admitted.
“You always want to give a group of guys an opportunity to impose their size versus a smaller team. Didn’t work out in that quarter, and we made adjustments in the second half.
“We’ll continue to evaluate that, but I’m aware of what that lineup looks like.”
Just like now, Vogel’s aptitude for tinkering was on full display in the Orlando bubble last season. The then-starting five of James, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Davis and JaVale McGee ranked among the worst lineups in the seeding part of the NBA restart.
Vogel was undeterred even after the same seemingly dysfunctional starting group failed in a Game 1 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers to start the playoffs. However, the rest is history as from that point, the lineup endured a few tweaks along the way and was key to L.A.’s success in the bubble.
Vogel doesn’t believe in setting win targets for road trips
The Lakers have been particularly exposed at Staples Center this season resulting in a 4-4 home game record. On the contrary, L.A. remains undefeated on the road having won eight straight games to start the season, breaking a franchise record along the way.
But Vogel toned down expectations ahead of the road trip that began with the win in Milwaukee and refused to set a win target for the seven-game stint. “I think that’s a postmortem type of thing,” he said.
“Once you get done with that seventh game, we went 5-2 on this trip, or 7-0, or 2-5. Wherever you end up, you evaluate then if it was a good trip or wasn’t a good trip.”