The Los Angeles Lakers may have dropped their second preseason game to the Denver Nuggets 101-97 on Friday night, but there was still plenty of reason for optimism. One major one has been the play of the Lakers bench, in particular the lineup of Jose Calderon, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., and Tarik Black.
It was that lineup that went on a huge run to turnaround the Lakers’ first preseason game, and the group thrived again on Friday night thanks to its speed, length, athleticism, and defensive intensity.
After a second straight strong showing, head coach Luke Walton admitted that the lineup definitely has something going via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
Walton acknowledged there's something there to the Calderon, Clarkson, Ingram, Nance, Black lineup
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) October 8, 2016
The group definitely has excellent chemistry together and Clarkson had an idea of why according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Why the chemistry with the second unit? (JC, Ingram, Larry, Tarik, Calderon)
Jordan Clarkson: "Biggest thing is we’re having fun."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 8, 2016
The group, and the team as a whole, is definitely having a lot of fun so far this preseason and it is obvious to anyone who has watched them. That is a testament to what Walton has infused into this roster.
The success of this group starts on the defensive end. Walton has praised Clarkson for his defensive improvements, calling him the most consistent perimeter defender on the team. Meanwhile Nance and Black have both been well regarded for their defensive exploits and Ingram has made an impact on that end as well, because of his length.
The question now becomes whether Walton will stick with this lineup once the regular season starts. In particular questions about Clarkson starting or coming off the bench, as well as Larry Nance Jr., will need to be figured out. However, this group clearly has something going for it so even if some start, Walton would be wise to get this group some minutes together.