The 2018-19 NBA season is winding down for the Los Angeles Lakers as just one final game against the Portland Trail Blazers remains for this team.
With the playoffs not happening, head coach Luke Walton has begun giving more minutes to the team’s younger players such as Alex Caruso, Jonathan Williams, and Jemerrio Jones as opposed to veterans such as Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler.
In the team’s most recent win over the Utah Jazz, Walton played only eight players with just two — JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — being part of the team’s rotation at the start of the season. The same will likely occur in the season finale against the Blazers, at least when it comes to Rondo and Chandler.
“Tyson hasn’t played in a month now, so I’m going to continue not to play him unless I need to. And Rondo, I’m not going to play him Tuesday night either unless we’re in foul trouble, ejections, those type of things,” Walton said following the win over the Jazz.
“Those guys are available for me but with one game left in the season, we’re going to continue giving starts and reps to the younger players and see what they can do with that.”
These young players have undoubtedly been taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Caruso has become a fan favorite, averaging 19.4 points and seven assists over the last five contests. Jones has shown he can do the dirty work with 26 rebounds and four blocks over the last two contests while Williams is averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over the last three.
This is no different than what Walton did last season when Caruso, Josh Hart, and Gary Payton II led the Lakers to a victory over the Clippers in the season finale. The young Lakers on the roster this year have done a great job of playing with energy and passion so expect Caruso, Williams, Jones, and Moritz Wagner to get the lion share of minutes in this final game against the Blazers.