The Los Angeles Lakers are starting to narrow down their rotations in search of the most effective lineups and ways to use their impressive roster depth.
Toward the end of the recent seven-game road trip, head coach Frank Vogel experimented with a shorter rotation by giving more minutes to Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker.
One five-man formation, consisting of the two guards playing alongside LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell, proved to boast a particularly impressive 67.7 defense rating.
But Vogel doesn’t want to jump to conclusions and said it was too early to determine the lineup’s real impact on the defensive end. “I think we still have a lot of basketball to be played,” he said.
“I think it’s only two games that we’ve looked at that, but it’s part of roster exploration. We hit a speed bump on our last trip where we felt like we could get a little bit of a burst by shortening the rotation. It wasn’t by design to just throw those particular five guys together, but sort of moving up two guys that have been playing well in Talen and Alex.”
However, Vogel admitted he did notice the trend and said the coaching staff would keep an eye on the formation and continue assessing its defensive prowess.
“In each of the last two games we’ve hit stretches with that group where we played solid defense and were able to go on a run offensively, so we’ll continue to see how that plays out,” he said.
Vogel: Roster depth a ‘good problem’ for Lakers
Vogel said balancing between a fair distribution of rotation minutes and distilling the team’s most proficient lineups have been difficult considering the roster depth at his disposal. But the head coach added that even though the task has been a head-scratcher at times, it is a positive situation to be in for the Lakers.
“It is definitely challenging to have this many guys who are used to playing bigger minutes,” Vogel acknowledged. “It’s been a challenge from Day 1, but like everyone always says, it’s a good problem. We’ll manage it throughout the course of the season.”
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