Outside of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel figured to have an array of options to set the team’s starting lineup. Vogel indicated the preseason and early stretch of games in the regular season would be used to evaluate combinations.
After doing so during exhibition games, Vogel has stuck with the same group of starters in each of the Lakers’ first six games. While the unit of Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee have helped the team to a 5-1 record.
However, with the exception of the season opener — a loss to the L.A. Clippers — the Lakers have seemingly gotten off to a slow start in each contest. Though even with that, they have trailed after the first quarter in just two games (Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks).
The Lakers were particularly flat at the outset of their overtime win against the Mavericks, though not to the point where Vogel was contemplating a change even if he was unable to discern why the slow starts have persisted, according to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
Vogel said he finds the slow starts they’ve had puzzling. Doesn’t think it’s a lineup issue because the same group has been better to start third quarters, he said.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 3, 2019
Lakers starters have a plus 5.5, which is tied with the Clippers for fifth-best in the NBA.
With Davis’ preference to play power forward, the Lakers figured to start McGee or Dwight Howard at center. Although McGee has been given the nod, Howard has outperformed his fellow big man. That’s earned him the opportunity to finish multiple games.
Elsewhere, injuries in some sense have dictated decisions for the Lakers. Rajon Rondo has yet to make his 2019-20 debut as he remained sidelined by a calf strain, and Kyle Kuzma has only appeared in two games thus far and is on a minutes restriction after returning from a stress fracture.
Of the two, Rondo appears to be most likely to receive an opportunity in the starting lineup. Vogel indicated he envisions playing the veteran point guard upwards of 30 minutes per game. Vogel also dismissed any concern over the type of point guard that pairs best with James.
James acknowledged he’s continued to develop chemistry with Rondo on the court but is confident Vogel will make the best decision, just as his other head coaches did.
“I think what’s been very important and very key to the amount of winning I’ve done in my career is the coaching staff putting the players that complement each other on the floor,” James explained.