New head coach Darvin Ham has a tall task trying to figure out the right combination of players to help the Los Angeles Lakers get back to contention.
Ham’s got a good foundation in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the roster is full of unproven young players with different sets of question marks.
Aside from the stars, Ham has acknowledged that he hasn’t settled on who will play but did reveal he’s looking to evaluate different lineups throughout the year.
“I want to explore the entire lineup,” Ham said before Thursday night’s preseason game. “I think we have elements of playing big, elements of playing small, elements of playing super small with LeBron at the 5 sometimes. But no, I’m not just, I don’t want to say old-school coaches, but obviously when you get to the postseason the rotation cuts down. A really extended rotation during the regular season is probably 10-11 guys. As we get to the postseason, that goes down to 8-9 guys. Sometimes there’s series’ where the deeper you go, the less guys play and then once you get to the Conference Finals and the Finals, it’s like 7.5-8 guys and the pieces within the rotation can change as we go from series to series according to matchups.
“But just in general with our team going through the season, we’ve assembled what I feel is a defensive-minded, really versatile group. And I want to be able to explore everything within it until I can’t, you know what I mean? The players are gonna let me know who I can play and who I can’t play and that’s what your practices are for, that’s what your shootarounds are for, that’s what preseason games are for as well as early on in the regular season. You kind of throw things at the wall and see what sticks and what fits. So I’m not one that’s gonna limit myself to a seven or eight-man lineup throughout the season. I’m gonna use as many pieces as I possibly can that I have at my disposal to put together the best lineup we can possibly have, multiple lineups that we can use throughout the course of the game, especially through the course of different stretches of the season.”
So far, Ham has tried a few different lineups in the preseason. For example, he started Kendrick Nunn and explained he liked how he was shooting the basketball and his approach on the defensive end.
On paper, Los Angeles does appear to have several options at their disposal and it’ll be up to Ham to parse out the right choices on a nightly basis.
Darvin Ham doesn’t believe Anthony Davis playing center puts extra toll on his body
Another look the Lakers can turn to is their small ball lineup with Davis at center. There’s a prevailing thought that Davis can’t play center for long stretches due to the physical demands, but Ham believes that isn’t a cause for concern.
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