In the Los Angeles Lakers’ tumultuous Sunday afternoon win against the Detroit Pistons, Frank Vogel reverted back to the team’s original starting lineup. This included DeAndre Jordan starting at center and Anthony Davis moving back down to the four.
The team had found some success with Davis at the five, but a string of recent losses made Vogel feel compelled to make a change. The move to Jordan was a response to the team’s rebounding woes in their blowout loss to the Boston Celtics.
Vogel gave some more detail why he feels that a big starting lineup has some benefit rather than having Davis start at the five. “Obviously, until Trevor Ariza comes back, we’re looking at two different ways to go,” Vogel said. “We can go with AD at the five and LeBron [James] guarding the other team’s four or we can go with a big lineup.
“Some of it right now is going to be matchup based, some of it is we have to learn what our team’s identity is going to be. I think Russell [Westbrook] benefits from having space with a smaller lineup, but our defense benefits from having a bigger lineup against most matchups. Sometimes they go spread five and you have to adjust to the game.
“But I think it’s in part based on matchups right now and in part just understanding that we’re still seeking to fall into our true identity, but that’s likely not going to come until we get whole and for me, giving up 130 points to the Celtics I needed more toughness out there on the defensive side of the ball. The Knicks and Pacers both play big lineups, so it’s all of the above.”
Russell Westbrook absolutely looks more comfortable offensively when a traditional center is not in the game clogging the lane. And while Vogel sees some benefit defensively to having a big lineup, the numbers don’t match this theory.
The Lakers have played five five-man lineups for more than 25 minutes this season. The three five-man combos with Davis at the five have net ratings of 15.1, 8.7, and 1.3, respectively. Their defensive ratings are 99.1, 80.4, and 97.4
The two five-man lineups with Jordan at the five and Davis at the four have net ratings of -14.2 and -19.1, respectively, with defensive ratings of 112.3 and 103.6.
Now, there could be bigger problems than Jordan within these lineups, but it points to a larger trend that the Lakers are simply a better team when they limit their usage of true centers. But until L.A. gets healthy, Vogel plans to continue using Jordan when the matchup dictates it.
Vogel discusses third quarter woes
The Lakers head coach spoke about what has been a serious problem for the team early in the season, and that is third quarters. L.A. has been killed in nearly every third quarter this season, and Vogel may have a theory why.
“We’ve talked about being ready to go and obviously, statistically the rebounding on both sides of the ball. The transition defense hasn’t been good and we led the league in mid-range shots in the third quarter, so there all areas that we focus on.
“But a lot of times it’s the urgency you come out of the locker room with and I think it’s something that’s not going to be a long-term issue for us. Obviously, it’s been a trouble area for us so far, but we are talking about it, we’re mindful of having better third quarters.”
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