The Los Angeles Lakers’ frontcourt rotation was looking incredibly crowded heading into training camp, and that was before rookie forward Kyle Kuzma’s stellar play made it clear to head coach Luke Walton that the team will have to find him minutes.
Kuzma’s success has left the Lakers with a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless: How should the Lakers divvy up power forward minutes between three deserving candidates in Kuzma, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.?
Walton was asked about the issue after the team’s Wednesday practice, first saying that starting roles are about more than just who’s playing well via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke explained today that starting lineup decisions are more than who is playing best, it’s also about what makes sense for the overall team
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 11, 2017
He would go on to add that all three players will be playing different roles throughout the season and that the most important thing is for them to play hard via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“There’ll be times that Julius might be playing backup 5 and Kuz at the 4. There’s times where Larry might be backup 5, Julius at the 4, and Kuz at the 3. There’s a lot of responsibility, but all they need to do is know that when they’re on the court they gotta play hard and play the way that we want to play and they’ll be fine.”
Walton’s assertion that the starting spot will be about more than just who is playing best individually is interesting, and could be read as reasoning for how well Kuzma is playing not being enough to get him named as the team’s starting power forward on opening night.
Kuzma has played the best of the three forwards during the preseason, but Brook Lopez already serves as a floor-spacing frontcourt player for the starters. This conceivably would make Randle, who isn’t a floor spacer, and Nance, who lacks aggression offensively, better fits with the starters.
Regardless of who starts and who finishes, it sounds like all three will get their chances to make an impact. As long as Walton can ably juggle his rotations, the Lakers can turn a potential logjam into a strength.