Much of the discussion surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers lineup has revolved around the use of five-year-old Anthony Davis.
Davis actually increased his playing time at this position, with Clean the display glass 70 percent his minutes coming in fifth so far would be a career high mark.
Despite the difficulty, the Lakers persevered to start a traditional big game, with DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard taking advantage of many minutes in the rotation.
That changed for the Detroit Pistons at the STAPLES Center on Sunday night, with Howard not watching any game time, while Jordan logged in just 20 minutes as a starter.
This is partly due to a new Lakers roster, where LeBron James is playing in a nominal fifth place, with head coach Frank Vogel hinting he could use a regular “no-center” formation. more often when moving forward.
Before the game against the Pistons, James played one percent of his minutes at five o’clock, and has never topped three percent in any of his 19 seasons in the league.
Vogel continued by saying that a “no-center” lineup means either Jordan or Howard will win the starting title and the other is likely to be squeezed out depending on who they choose to play.
“This is part of our growth as a team and learning what our identity looks like” Vogel said. “There’s more space for Russ, Bron has space to be a roller into the basket, that’s very effective. We can only change more on the defensive side of the ball. I think that’s it. something we will develop and will become part of our team in the future.”
Having missed a long time this season with an abdominal injury, James appeared to approach the area during the game, although he rejected any suggestions of any post-match damage. With him still carrying such a heavy offensive burden, it’s at least curious that the Lakers will also ask him to take charge of anchoring an already struggling defence.
Experimentation is the continuation of a group trying to find the right combination. While James’ injury and suspension have hampered the Lakers’ ability to find continuity early in the season, the results have not been impressive for Davis in five games so far.
According to Glass Cleaner, the Lakers have a NET rating of -4.2 out of 1028 in possession with Davis on the floor while Jordan and Howard are on the bench. The late-game defense was particularly worrisome, with Los Angeles giving 112.9 points out of 100 possessions in that lineup. That number would place 29th overall in the league, with only the Memphis Grizzlies having a worse defensive tally of 114.8.
“That’s why our lives are so difficult right now. Because we’re not fully committed,” Vogel said of the Lakers’ defence.
Attempting against the Pistons to win 110-106, the Lakers have now lifted themselves back to .500. The trio of James, Davis and Russell Westbrook add up for 82 of 110 points but like many of this team’s wins to date, it’s far from convincing.
Regardless of the contrasting results, the Lakers remain one of the most intriguing teams in the league to watch. Now to learn how the LeBron at center test works.