The Los Angeles Lakers debuted their fully healthy rotation in the team’s final game before the All-Star break. With the trade deadline acquisitions all available and LeBron James healthy, Darvin Ham opted to move Dennis Schroder to the bench.
D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, James, Jarred Vanderbilt and Anthony Davis made up the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Schroder led the bench unit of Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. and Mo Bamba. The move came just days after Ham said he would continue to start Russell and Schroder alongside one another.
The move may have come as a surprise to fans who assumed Ham would stick to his word of starting the two guards together, but it did not come as a surprise to Schroder.
The Lakers guard revealed on his gameday vlog that the Ham called him the day before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans to tell him that he’d be moving to the bench, saying that his skillset would be better served leading the second unit, via Omar Siddiqi:
Prior to the Pelicans game, Coach Ham called Dennis to tell him it’d be best to bring him off the bench, so he can have his own unit & have the ball in his hands more.
Dennis said that it was no stress and he’d do anything to help the team win. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/egvXnbrEwA
— Omar Siddiqi (@osid24) February 16, 2023
Ham’s reasoning for the move was sound, as Schroder’s ball-handling and attack mindset would not have been as conducive to a starting lineup that already included James, Davis and Russell. But as the leader of the second unit, Schroder can attack with ease while Hachimura, Brown, Bamba and Reaves provide spacing.
It was only one game, but the move worked to absolute perfection, as the Lakers dominated the Pelicans in a 120-102 victory that was only momentarily a close game. The success almost ensures that the move will remain permanent after the All-Star break.
Schroder responded positively to the move as well, saying he knows that the Lakers need to start winning a significant percentage of their games to make the playoffs. He also agrees with Ham’s assessment that his skillset would perform better with the bench unit than the starters.
Schroder has been one of L.A.’s better players this season, and figures to be even more effective in a role that matches his skillset perfectly.
Ham using All-Star break to integrate new additions
Ham spoke about the coaching staff’s plans for the All-Star break and how he wants to utilize his new additions.
“For sure. My coaching staff and I have talked about that extensively when we were meeting today and digging through the roster and putting different combinations up on the board,” Ham said when asked prior to the Lakers’ win over the Pelicans.
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