The Los Angeles Lakers and head coach Frank Vogel will be heading to Orlando, Florida, with the challenge of re-working the team’s rotation. With Avery Bradley opting out of the NBA’s restart, and JR Smith and Dion Waiters both joining the team but yet to play a game, Vogel definitely has some decisions to make.
The first of these will be replacing Bradley in the starting lineup, although neither Smith nor Waiters will likely be the choice for that. That will instead go to one of Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or perhaps even Rajon Rondo.
When it comes to Smith and Waiters, their role within the rotation could vary greatly from night to night. When asked how he envisions using the two newcomers, Vogel said that there is no set-in-stone answer, and that the scrimmages and seeding games will be a factor.
“Best answer to that is we’ll see,” Vogel said. “Obviously both of them are super talented and they can play, they can contribute and help, but we have a great deal of depth at the perimeter spot even without Avery on our team.
“Obviously with LeBron handling a lot of times as the point guard, you can play a lot of shot-making wings with him. I don’t know exactly where they’re going to fit into a rotation. Whether it’s going to be both of them, one of them, neither of them on certain nights.
“Those answers will play out over the three weeks of training camp, scrimmages and seeding games. They’ll have opportunities in those seeding games to show what they can do and how they fit into this group.”
For the Lakers, the 11 games prior to the start of the playoffs — three scrimmages and eight seeding games — will primarily be for figuring out their rotation and finding a rhythm. With the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference all but locked up, winning is less important than building a foundation for the playoffs.
Smith and Waiters are both talented scorers who are known for their ability to create their own shots. Because of this, both will absolutely be involved in some way, as that was a skill set that was desperately lacking on this roster prior to the hiatus.
It’s unlikely that either of the two will receive a significant number of minutes nightly, but both could still make an impact. If they can show that they’re willing to play in those roles, they may be rewarded.
The good news is that Vogel at least seems to have a direction on where he wants to go with his two new additions.
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