When the Los Angeles Lakers made roster changes during the offseason, they were viewed as clearly the deepest team in the NBA.
The preseason then added another wrinkle in second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker’s emergence as a player who could make an impact this season, giving head coach Frank Vogel some very difficult decisions to make.
The Lakers have 11 players who are expecting to get minutes and that can be tough to manage for a coach. Vogel has done his best to try and appease everyone, but it is impossible to keep all players happy.
“It is definitely challenging to have this many guys who are used to playing bigger minutes,” Vogel acknowledged. “It’s been a challenge from Day 1, but like everyone always says, it’s a good problem. We’ll manage it throughout the course of the season.
“There are times when I think we try to get everybody appropriate minutes and it can sometimes take other guys out of rhythm. That’s the balance you try to find as a coach. You want to be able to keep everybody in rhythm but utilize all your tools and resources as well.
“Just one of those things that’s a good problem and I think it’s going to bode well for us over the course of the season.”
That is an interesting point to make for Vogel, but one that holds very true. When trying to get so many players the appropriate minutes, it can be hard for them to establish a good rhythm as they’re either being subbed out quickly or those who stay on the court have to change their role.
In the last couple of games Vogel has shortened the rotation, going with just four players off the bench while veterans Markieff Morris and Wesley Matthews haven’t seen the floor. “It’s the toughest part of the job, to be honest,” Vogel said of sitting the veterans.
“You’ve got guys that are really good players, that deserve minutes that you don’t have. It’s difficult. They’re tough conversations, but those two guys are consummate pros. And this is not something permanent. We’ll continue to evaluate what we’ve got to do with our rotation to get Ws.”
While they are tough conversations, the fact that Vogel did have them shows the type of coach he is. Obviously Matthews and Morris would prefer to play, but Vogel bringing them in and explaining the situation makes it more likely that they will accept it for the time being without becoming a distraction.
And at some point, in the right matchups, both will undoubtedly play a big role for the Lakers this season.
Vogel, James praise ‘high-energy’ bench lineup
This rotation adjustment by Vogel has opened up a new lineup that has seen great success so far. The four-man bench unit of Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and Horton-Tucker along with LeBron James has dominated the opposition so far and both LeBron and Vogel are fans of the group.
“It’s a high energy group,” James said of the lineup. “We all pay with a pace, a level of energy and we just fed off one another. We have multiple ballhandlers, multiple guys that can slash and shooting. It works well for us and Trezz commands the paint. It works extremely well for us.”
Vogel added: “I liked the energy that they had. Alex, Kuz, Talen and Trezz are all hard-playing dudes. We haven’t seen that lineup primarily because we haven’t seen a lot of Talen Horton-Tucker, who we want to get in there.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!