After a long and eventful 2019 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers are finally tipping off 2019 NBA preseason against the Golden State Warriors.
Optimism is high after the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, whose arrival has the Lakers on a shortlist of championship contenders for the 2019-20 NBA season.
On this episode of the Lakers Nation Podcast, host Trevor Lane shares his excitement for the new season and discusses what Lakers fans should be looking for in preseason play. Since the games don’t count towards the team’s record, there will be opportunities to experiment and perhaps get a look at lineups and players that may not see much time during the regular season.
For example, the Lakers will certainly experiment with their guard and center rotations as head coach Frank Vogel attempts to figure out which pairings work best. Will the incumbent JaVale McGee keep his starting role from last season or will as resurgent Dwight Howard usurp his role? It’s going to be an interesting battle to watch and one that may ultimately come down to which of the two pairs better with Davis in the starting lineup.
Likewise, the Lakers have a number of guards on the roster that deserve minutes like Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Troy Daniels. It will impossible for all of them to have a consistent role during the regular season, so preseason play gives each of them an opportunity to prove that they should be part of the rotation.
Vogel will have plenty of chances to move guards in and out of different lineups as he searches for combinations that work. Is it better to have Rondo on the floor with shooters like Cook and Caldwell-Pope or is he best used as a starter with James and Davis? Can Caruso earn minutes playing off the ball as a shooting guard or does he have to be a point guard?
While there will be plenty of Vogel to experiment with, the most important thing that needs to come out of preseason is ultimately health. The Lakers have had horrific luck with injuries in recent seasons, watching every key player on the team go down for extended periods last season.
This summer, Kyle Kuzma is already dealing with a foot injury that will hold him out of at least the first three preseason games and DeMarcus Cousins is likely lost to the season as a result of a torn ACL. As such, the starters may not play much, but the bottom line is that the Lakers are finally back in action.