Lakers Vs. Pistons Preview: LeBron James Out, Dennis Schroder & Thomas Bryant Make Debuts
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers look to win their second game in a row when they face the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

L.A. is coming off a 116-103 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, ending a five-game skid. A win against Detroit will match the Lakers’ longest win streak of the season. The Pistons are in the middle of a five-game losing streak and in the second half of a back-to-back.

LeBron James is set to miss his third straight game with an adductor strain. The hope was that he would be able to return after L.A. had four days off, but it appears they are erring on the side of caution to avoid it becoming a more serious issue.

Juan Toscano-Anderson is also out again due to mid-back soreness while Max Christie is in health and safety protocols.

Two familiar faces are making their debuts for the Lakers, however, in Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schroder. The two reportedly looked good in their return to practice. Both of their availabilities create difficult decisions for head coach Darvin Ham.

Bryant spreads the floor and could take the spot of Wenyen Gabriel as the backup five. It is possible to even pair him alongside Anthony Davis because of his threat from deep.

Schroder joins a crowded guard room with five guards all earning minutes. One of those players will likely have their minutes eaten up by Schroder or even cut from the rotation entirely. Kendrick Nunn, who was recently sent down to the South Bay Lakers for extra work, has been struggling so far, which may open the door for Schroder.

For Detroit, Isaiah Stewart, who notoriously charged at LeBron James last season, is out.
The Pistons are also without prized young talent Cade Cunningham, who is averaging 19.9 points and 6 rebounds and assists per game.

Cunningham’s absence opens the door for rookie Jaden Ivey and veteran Bojan Bogdanovic to have more extended roles. Ivey and Bogdanovic have scored over 20 points in two of the three games Cunningham has missed.

Bogdanovic has started the season strong, including a five-game stretch with at least 20 points on an efficient 55.7% from the field. A common trade target for the Lakers, Bogdanovic is also shooting 41% from three on nearly seven attempts a game.

The Pistons, however, are one of the worst offensive teams in the league scoring the 29th most points per game. They also have the worst field goal percentage (42.5%) and second-to-worst 3-point percentage (32.0%) per game just behind the Lakers.

Without Stewart, the Pistons have been undersized — only two players (Marvin Bagley III and Jalen Duren) are over 6-foot-10 in the rotation. Therefore, it opens the door for L.A. to focus on points in the paint, which they are in the top 3 of in the league.

Going against a defense allowing the fourth-most points per game, the Lakers can gain some momentum offensively as they enter a softer part of their schedule. Wins could come quicker if L.A. takes care of business Friday night.

Los Angeles Lakers (3-10) vs. Detroit Pistons (3-13)

7:30 p.m. PT, November 18, 2022 Arena
TV: Spectrum SportsNet,
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Lonnie Walker IV
SF: Austin Reaves
PF: Troy Brown Jr.
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Thomas Bryant, Dennis Schroder, Wenyen Gabriel, Matt Ryan

Projected Pistons Starting Lineup:

PG: Killian Hayes
SG: Jaden Ivey
SF: Saddiq Bey
PF: Bojan Bogdanovic
C: Marvin Bagley III

Key Reserves: Alec Burks, Jaden Duren, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Livers, Kevin Knox

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