The Los Angeles Lakers followed through on the high expectations that came with their pairing of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the offseason by positioning themselves to secure the top seed in the Western Conference.
Regardless, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Lakers’ lack of a third option outside of the superstar duo. The concerns have only been amplified with the loss of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo leading up to the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.
The onus will fall on head coach Frank Vogel to establish a new, championship-caliber rotation during seeding games. Fortunately, it appears he is not too concerned with which player emerges as the go-to behind James and Davis.
The Lakers still have a number of quality options that can emerge as key players. Vogel is hoping to use this depth to his advantage.
“I really believe our third option on this team with the many, many weapons we have, is the open man. The way we play,” he said.
“If we attack, just play for each other and share the basketball, we have more than enough firepower. It’s almost a benefit to not have it be one guy the defense can zero in on. When you play in attack mode it can be a different guy every night stepping up and having 20 or 25 points, or the assists.
“That’s a strength of our team this year and I anticipate that’s going to work for us in the playoffs.”
The Lakers have had a number of different players step up and fill the role when needed throughout the year. Despite the loss of Bradley and Rondo, Vogel is confident that there is still more than enough on the roster to get the job done in this unprecedented season.
Kyle Kuzma has acknowledged his desire to perform well in his first playoff appearance with the Lakers. He is optimistic that the extended time off helped him get back to 100% form both a physical and mental standpoint.
Vogel on adjusting second unit without Rondo
Rondo was tasked with helping serve as a stabilizing factor for the backcourt until the hand injury. That has shifted the focus to potential role players who are poised for an increased workload.
Meanwhile, the arrival of Dion Waiters and JR Smith have added yet another intriguing dynamic to the Lakers roster as they get to work on establishing a new rotation.
“More will be needed in that regard from Alex and Quinn Cook. We have the ability to use our bigs with Kuz and in particular A.D. having the ability to bring it up and initiate offense. But I also like the prospects of seeing what Dion Waiters can do,” Vogel said of finding a secondary ballhandler.
“We’ve got two really good basketball players that we added late in our season, that do different things but are equally as important. With JR being a big-time catch and shoot player, and Dion with the ability to make plays off the bounce.
“Losing Rondo puts more of a need on Dion’s skill set. I look forward to seeing what he can do as we get into games, but all of those guys will pick up slack.
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