We’ve all seen (or at least been told, if you don’t get TWC’s SportsNet) how inconsistent and underachieving the bench has looked so far. Benching the starters on Thursday would give the reserves an opportunity to play big minutes and develop a chemistry amongst themselves.
Antawn Jamison, in particular, has been unable to find his rhythm. In seven preseason games, he’s averaged just 4.7 points on 35.9 percent shooting from the field in 23:89 minutes. Last season he averaged 17.2 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting in 33:06 minutes.
Simply put, Jamison needs to get going as soon as possible and being placed on the floor for extended minutes with the Lakers’ second unit may put him right in his comfort zone; as he’s played as a starter alongside similar talent for two seasons in Cleveland. All jokes aside, Jamison may simply need consistent touches in order to get his rhythm going and lead the bench.
Additionally, Jodie Meeks has shown both promise and inconsistency, while Devin Ebanks had a breakout game on Friday with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-5 from three-point land). Robert Sacre has shown promise as well, and appears likely to make the final roster.
By not playing any starters, Steve Blake and Chris Duhon would be able to prove what each of them can do for this team as well–as both could be first in line to be traded should the Lakers not perform up to expectations right away. Neither player has played significant minutes thus far, and it would be a solid test to see who’s best suited to play 20-23 minutes behind Steve Nash.
It would also give Mike Brown a final look at his remaining roster, and allow him to evaluate players such as Darius Johnson-Odom, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, and Robert Sacre; while also allowing him to figure out which player(s) to cut and/or send to the D-League for the regular season.
The Final Buzzer
Although I expect the reserves to perform best when mixed in with the starters, giving them an opportunity to play in a real game situation against other players would provide some valuable experience.
They would no longer inherit a points lead and be expected to keep it, but would have to create their own lead. It would also give the starters an opportunity to watch and study their backups from the sidelines, as the backups have been studying them.
Most importantly, it would give the starters a mini-break by avoiding a back-to-back situation in an effort to keep everyone as healthy as possible while not losing much rhythm.