The Los Angeles Lakers are a roster packed to the brim with experience and veteran talent. In addition to a combined nine rings across the team, the group of players is also one of the oldest in the league.
It is a significant adjustment for the Lakers, who were one of the youngest teams in the league the past few years. There are still some youngsters on their roster for the NBA restart, but only Kyle Kuzma, the lone remnant from the post-Kobe rebuild, has played meaningful minutes.
Still, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes that Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok possess enough talent to boost the team if they are needed. “They’re two guys that have very different skillsets, and I trust both of them,” Vogel recently said.
“If we needed to go to them in the seeding games or playoffs, they have unique skillsets they’re exceptional at. Devontae is just a monster with his aggressiveness on the board, his physical play, hustle aspect to his game. He just impacts the game.
“Kostas has incredible length and has shown promise as an elite rim protector. He’s fit right along in the line of JaVale and Dwight with the length we present at the basket. Both of those guys have bright futures, and I would trust using them if we needed to.
Vogel also sees Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers’ 2019 second-round pick, as a valuable two-way wing. “Talen, he’s really been one of the most impressive players since the restart,” Vogel said.
“He plays with a poise that’s beyond his years, and he’s shot the ball well from the perimeter, put it down on the floor, used his defensive foot speed and toughness, along with his wingspan to make an impact on that end as well. We’re excited about all three of those young men.”
The Lakers likely won’t have to put Vogel’s evaluation to the test. The playoffs is only a few weeks away, and the trio of young talent all sit behind league veterans. When rotations shrink, and the Lakers’ starters begin to shoulder more minutes, the playoffs will hopefully serve as a learning experience for those who won’t have much opportunity to see the floor.
None of the three played in the opening seeding game Thursday night.
Learning from the past
The Lakers suffered two major losses in the past month, as Avery Bradley opted out of the NBA restart, and Rajon Rondo fractured his thumb in practice. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bradley’s replacement in the starting lineup, said he is ready to become a significant contributor come the postseason.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the last four years,” said Caldwell-Pope when asked about his last trip to the playoffs with the Detroit Pistons. “Just getting a taste of that in 2016 and now having an opportunity to do the same here, I feel great about it.
“Over the four years, my game has expanded. I’ve grown a lot in areas I needed to be better at, and I think I’m ready for this opportunity.”
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