Lakers find the right roster combination through early-season struggles
As the 2021-22 annual NBA season approaches the 1/4 mark, the Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to find a suitable formula.
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Before the game against the Detroit Pistons 4-11, head coach Frank Vogel made another adjustment to the starting lineup.
DeAndre Jordan was brought back to the starting group along with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley.
It was the 33-year-old’s 11th game of the season, who has averaged at least 13 minutes per game in his career. This is the third time this season he’s returned to the starting line-up, with Davis once again sliding from fifth to fourth.
Enter the game with Defensively ranked 20th by giving 108.5 points per 100 possession, the Lakers were cut off in the first half, conceding 68 points for the Pistons.
In fact, they let Detroit score 99 points in the first three quarters, which is astounding when you consider this Pistons team hasn’t been able to hit 100 in eight of their first 15 games this season. .
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By 17 points away in the third quarter, the Lakers should take a win, but it’s hardly impressive.
Admittedly the Lakers have players on and off the roster with various ailments, but at least for now, the results with Jordan on the floor have been less than positive.
The Jordan test got off to a rough start (number via nba.com)
|Total minutes||Rating OFF||DEF Rating||NET Rating|
|D.Jordan, A.Davis, L.James, R.Westbrook, K.Bazemore||47||98.1||112.3||-14.2|
|D.Jordan, A.Davis, R.Westbrook, A.Bradley, K.Bazemore||40||84.5||103.6||-19.1|
Jordan features in the two most used five-man lineups, especially for offense, producing brutal results in the small sample produced to date.
While the defensive side of the ball remains a major concern, the Lakers saw a bump in the attacking end as Davis was tagged five. According to Glass Cleaner, the Lakers’ offensive efficiency improved by 8.6 points per 100 possession with Davis at the center.
Naturally, the Lakers closed the Detroit game with Davis as the big man, with the longtime All-Star coming in with plenty of tight defence, including successive blocks on Cade Cunningham at the last minute. effectively froze the match.
The Lakers are leading 9-9 on the season and while it’s probably not the time to break the panic button, the reason to worry is legitimate. Over 199 minutes, the Lakers are on a real -5.3 with LeBron and AD on the floor together. Last season, that number was +11.2 in 601 minutes. In the 2020 season, this is +7.9 in 1455 minutes.
Everyone expected this new group to take some time to reassemble, especially with the inclusion of a player as skilled as Russell Westbrook but it’s hard to deny the Lakers look like a talent pool. inappropriate, and yes, they look stale.
Lakers final ranking for opponents score in paint is 50.9 per game and 26th for the opponent’s quick break score is 13.8 per game. Related, to say the least.
While getting Jordan back into the squad is a bit of a stretch, it certainly makes sense that the Lakers are aware they need to offload their star big man as injuries have begun to hit a player. Some of the important older players on the list include James. Before the Detroit game, Davis had spent 72% of his minutes in his fifth year, which would be a career-high number if it lasted through the whole season.
The Lakers have survived the Pistons, with unconvincing wins throughout the early part of the season. Westbrook admitted after the game they needed to get the top lane win.
“It’s a must-win for us. We have to find a way to win games, especially in laning.” Westbrook to Mike Trudell from Spectrum SportsNet. “Tonight was a hell of a win for all of us, for all of the Laker Nation. We needed this game tonight and we won it.”
It seems unlikely that an early-season game against the lottery-bound Pistons wouldn’t be considered a must-win but this is where the Lakers stand.
It’s probably fair to give this roster until the new year to make any solid claims about a possible post-season run, but at least for now, those who doubt the veteran roster are headed into the season. There is no reason to change their opinion.