How Lakers Optimize LeBron & AD!

A brief preview on how the Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel can best build five-man rotations to optimize LeBron James and Anthony Davis

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There are three types of five-man lineups that Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel should be building his rotations around: Lineups with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, lineups with just James, and lineups with just Davis.

Frank Vogel would be smart to stagger the minutes LeBron James and Anthony Davis play so that one of them would be on the court for all 48 minutes of every game. For example, he could play each superstar 36 minutes per game: 24 minutes together and 12 minutes by themselves. That would enable James and Davis to play together for 24 minutes or half the game with each playing alone for 12 minutes or a fourth of the game.

Having one of LeBron James or Anthony Davis on the floor the entire game should be the number one rule for the Lakers’ coaching staff except when one of them is unavailable due to foul trouble, injury, or load management. The NBA is a superstar driven league and always having a superstar on the floor forty-eight minutes of every game is the best way to insure the Lakers will have rotations that can compete and win every possession of the game.

Besides having at least one superstar on the floor all the time, Frank Vogel also needs to make sure that each five-man rotation has the shooters, ball handlers, playmakers, rebounders, and defenders needed to complement his superstars. While lineups can often be positionless and substitutions can often depend on matchups, it’s still smart to play lineups that have the skillsets needed to score points on offense and prevent points on defense.

All of the Lakers’ lineups should ideally include at least two starters. They should also include an elite wing defender to guard the other team’s top scorer and center to anchor the defense and protect the rim. Each lineup should include at least two and preferably three high percentage three-point shooters with the gravity to force defenses to guard them so LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis will have the spacing to dominate on offense.

With those points in mind, let’s preview the ideal five-man rotations the Lakers should build to complement James and Davis both playing together, James playing without Davis, and Davis playing without James.

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Lakers Ideal Lineups by Position and Quarter

Lineup 1: LeBron James and Anthony Davis, 24 Minutes
(PG Bradley, SG Green, SF James, PF Davis, and CE Cousins)

This is a veteran lineup that would hopefully surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis with a trio of willing and capable three-point shooters and proven defenders in Avery Bradley, Danny Green, and DeMarcus Cousins. It is the starting lineup that would used to start and finish every game. It would be used for the first six and last six minutes of each half, resulting in it being used for half the total time or 24 of the 48 minutes in every game.

Lineup 2: Anthony Davis Without LeBron James, 12 Minutes
(PG Rondo, SG Green, SF Kuzma, PF Dudley, and CE Davis)

This is the first lineup that would take over from the starting lineup and would feature Anthony Davis as the lone superstar and Rajon Rondo replacing LeBron James as the primary playmaker surrounded by three-point shooters Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, and Jared Dudley. This lineup would be used the last six minutes of the first and third quarters, resulting in it being used for a fourth of the time or 12 of 48 minutes in every game.

Lineup 3: LeBron James Without Anthony Davis, 12 minutes
(PG Caruso, SG Caldwell-Pope, SF James, PF Kuzma, and CE McGee)

This is the second lineup that would take over for the starting lineup and would feature LeBron James as the lone superstar with JaVale McGee as the pick-and-roll center surrounded by elite three-point shooters in Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma. This lineup would be used for the first six minutes of the second and fourth quarters, resulting in it being used for a fourth of the time or 12 of 48 minutes in every game.

The above three lineups would create an eleven man rotation, which would be a good blueprint with which to start the season. The only players not in the rotation would be Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, and Talen Horton-Tucker.

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Minutes by Player, Quarter, and Position

Depending on how each individual player and each five-man rotation performs, there’s a good chance that elite shooters like Cook and Daniels might end up getting playing time. If Horton-Tucker’s defensive upside starts to show up, he might also be able to earn minutes later in the season. Finally, the Lakers still have an open roster spot that they’re holding in hopes of adding Andre Iguodala, a move that would change the rotations.

By the time the playoffs begin and the Lakers fill their last roster spot, their rotations are likely to be narrowed down to the ideal eight or nine players who can make the biggest contributions. Right now, head coach Frank Vogel has a deep and diverse roster from which to build three outstanding five-man rotations: one with superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, one with just Anthony Davis, and one with just LeBron James.

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