The Los Angeles Lakers have been constantly changing their rotation in 2021-22, forcing the players to adapt to rapidly changing roles.
In recent weeks, younger players took a fair share of minutes from L.A.’s veterans. In March, Trevor Ariza hasn’t made a single appearance; Wayne Ellington has played in just three of the last 10 games, and Avery Bradley has lost his spot in the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Stanley Johnson and Wenyen Gabriel clocked in 23 and 17.6 minutes per night, respectively, over the last 10 games. And rookie Austin Reaves averaged 26.8 minutes in the same timeframe, the fourth-most among all Lakers.
Dwight Howard recently said a lack of playing time can take a mental toll on NBA veterans. However, Johnson says “there’s no animosity” between the older and younger Lakers players, even if the latter get to play more often lately.
“It’s real cut and dry; we’re a team. We all work together,” he says.
“A guy like Trevor Ariza, I grew up watching him. That was like a guy when I was trying to figure out how I’m gonna get myself back in the NBA. I was like, ‘man, if I could just do what he can do, I’m gonna give myself a chance.’ So there’s no animosity.”
Also, Johnson points out everyone on the roster has received an opportunity to play at some point during the season.
“We’re competitors, and we’re here to compete, so obviously we all want to play and stuff like that, but we’re grown men, we like each other, our locker room is amazing, and we compete,” he said.
“Whoever gets out there and has a chance, it’s just an opportunity, and you do the best with your opportunities. Whatever Frank decides to do with the lineups is what he decides to do, and we keep it pushing.
“But I feel like this year, we’ve all gotten opportunities, so I think we all have had a fair share. That’s just how it’s been, even before I got here from what I heard. So I think it’s been cool.”
Frank Vogel thinks Gabriel can ‘change things’ for Lakers
By signing Gabriel, the Lakers added a player they didn’t previously have on the roster — an athletic 6-foot-9 forward who can stretch the floor and shoot 3s.
Head coach Frank Vogel emphasized the 24-year-old’s unique skill set and its value moving forward.
“His length and athleticism is something that we’ve lacked all season long in terms of having somebody like that that can still provide the floor spacing and the threat to knock down threes,” Vogel said.
“It’s something that we haven’t really had. He has the potential to really change things for us.