PG: Chris Paul
SG: Chauncey Billups
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Blake Griffin
C: Trey Thompkins
Key Reserves: DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams
The 2011-12 season is finally here. Kind of. The shortened pre-season kicks off tonight when the Lakers take on their revamped rivals from across the hall, the Los Angeles Clippers. This will be the first chance for basketball fans to see Chris Paul wearing a Clippers jersey, and for Lakers fans that may be an exceptionally bitter sight.
As most of you already know, Paul ended up with the Clippers after the league office vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Lakers. Since then the Lakers have been in a bit of a downward spiral, trading off reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom for nothing more than a trade exception and a draft pick.
Still, all the speculation will come to an end when the teams finally take the court. For the Lakers this will be their first organized game as a team since getting blown out by the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals last May.
While the results of this game may not matter in the standings, this will be a good opportunity to see what some of the players can do after such a long layoff. This will also be the first chance for Lakers fans to see some of the new additions to the team. Josh McRoberts, Gerald Green, Chris Daniels, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Jason Kapono and Malcolm Thomas will all be suiting up for the first time.
Generally it’s important to analyze keys to a win or loss, but in the pre-season it’s more about seeing what certain players can provide and where improvement is needed. For many of the new additions this will be a chance to earn playing time in coach Mike Brown’s rotation and establish themselves as candidates for regular season playing time.
Obviously there will be many of the same faces back in action for the Lakers. One of those faces will be center Andrew Bynum, who is suspended for the first five games of the regular season, will get a chance to go up against a rapidly improving Clippers frontcourt. Bynum and forward Pau Gasol will be up against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Griffin, two young players who are looking to help the Clippers compete for a post-season birth in 2012.
The starting lineup for the Lakers will look relatively similar to the one we saw last season, although Lakers coach Mike Brown hinted at keeping point guard Derek Fisher out of the rotation.
“I may sit Derek out (Monday) to continue let him get in shape, or playing shape, for us,” Brown said. The team is expected to have issues at the point guard position this season with Fisher and Steve Blake as their two main options. By sitting Fisher tonight Brown may be looking to see what some of the younger players can produce.
While the outcome of the game may not matter outside of bragging rights on Tuesday, all can agree that it will be nice to finally have basketball to watch once more.