The first preseason game for the Los Angeles Lakers left much to be desired, but that was to be expected given the roster overhaul during the offseason.
While it is usually not wise to glean too much from preseason games, it was a bit glaring to see the Lakers struggle so much to defend out on the perimeter. The guards had a hard time staying in front of their man which created a ripple effect of the big men trying to recover and ultimately leading to too many baskets at the rim.
It was no secret that there would be some regression after Los Angeles lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso in the summer, though Kent Bazemore has been an early bright spot as he looked the part of a 3-and-D wing.
Defensively, Bazemore is known for disrupting shooters and head coach Frank Vogel admitted that the veteran has stood out to him so far.
“I really think Baze has separated himself some,” Vogel said before Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. “His wingspan and athleticism has been more impressive up close in that regard. I just think everybody else has been competing in what we’re trying to do. The execution of our defense. That’s the biggest thing.”
Before training camp began, Bazemore seemed eager to earn his role after speaking with Vogel and the early returns indicate that he is well on his way to big minutes. The front office focus in the offseason was adding more shooters, but the swingman offers defensive versatility at the guard spots and even small forward, making him an easy person to pencil in for a major role.
Malik Monk has made a compelling case to start at shooting guard after his solid preseason so far, but knowing Vogel highly values defense, it would make sense for him to roll with Bazemore in the lineup. Preseason will go a long way in determining who starts alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, but Bazemore has to be the early favorite to claim one of the last two spots.
Frank Vogel wants consistent starting lineup
Even though one perceived strength of the Laker roster is their versatility to play either small or big, Vogel does not seem willing to mix and match on a nightly basis. Instead, Vogel is looking to establish his rotations and adjust when he feels it is needed.
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