The Los Angeles Lakers have played 76 of their 82 games this season. In those 76 games, they’ve played a whopping 38 different starting lineups. But the hope is that their most recent starting unit — D’Angelo Russell, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt — will be the go-to group the rest of the way.
This five-man unit was the starting lineup for Wednesday’s victory over the Chicago Bulls, and the stats show that they dominated as a group. In 16 minutes together, they had an offensive rating of 154.8 and a defensive rating of 89.7 for a 65.2 net rating. In standard numbers, that lineup won 48-26 in 16 minutes.
Because of injuries, it took 20 games after the trade deadline to finally get to this lineup. Reaves praised the early success of the five-man unit, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I felt like we just played really good basketball out the gate. When you have that much talent on the court with Bron, AD and D-Lo especially — and then you kind of fit me and Vando in there as hustle guys that play the right way — I thought we started the game off really the right way. Just playing the right way and making the extra pass and just a lot of energy.”
Reaves has already proven himself as a remarkable fit next to James and Davis. Last season, he was one of the few players that had positive splits when he was on the court, as almost any other lineup the Lakers played was generally a net negative.
Reaves and James have a 5.9 net rating in 621 minutes together this season, which is even more impressive considering most of those minutes came before the trade deadline when the Lakers were significantly below .500.
Reaves and Davis, meanwhile. have a net rating of 10.3 in 846 minutes together. They are the third most-played two-man unit on the Lakers this season, behind Davis with Troy Brown Jr and James with Dennis Schroder.
This lineup now has six regular season games together to get some momentum. They’ll have to do that in several must-win situations. It’s arguable that at least five of L.A.’s last six games qualify as must-wins.
Reaves and Russell enjoying playing together
Russell and Reaves have played 188 minutes together over an 11-game span. In that time, they have a net rating of 24.2, racking up an absurd 126.5 points per 100 possessions.
Both players had high praise for one another, with Reaves focusing on Russell’s ability to make the game easier for the players around him and Russell focusing on the versatility of Reaves’ skillset.
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