Filling Out the Lakers Starting Five?
Which two role players would be the best fit to start alongside the Lakers’ core three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Danny Green?
One of the strengths of the roster Rob Pelinka and the Lakers’ front office have put together is its two-way versatility and ability to adapt to different styles of play whether offensive or defensive, fast or slow, big or small.
Right now, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Danny Green are the Lakers’ three core starters who, with the addition of the right two role players, can be transformed into custom lineups to matchup best against any opponent. This gives Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel the ability not only to start different lineups depending on the opponent but also to strategically change lineups during games to force adjustments or counter moves by opposing teams.
Here are four of the elite five-man starting lineups head coach Frank Vogel can create by combining different pairs of role players with the Lakers’ three core starters of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Danny Green:
1. Best Two-way Lineup. Add Avery Bradley and Kyle Kuzma.
Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis
This is the five-man lineup that best optimizes the Lakers’ talent at both ends of the court and should be the starting lineup when the season begins. It not only includes five capable and willing three-point shooters but also four current or former first team All-NBA defense players. It offers a unique combination of championship caliber playmakers, shooters, rebounders, and defenders who can matchup well with any other team in the league.
What makes this lineup special is its two-way potential. It can beat you with raw firepower or clamp a lid on your basket. Offensively, it has two of the most multi-talented superstars in the world in LeBron James and Anthony Davis surrounded by a trio of elite three-point shooters in Bradley, Green, and Kuzma. Defensively, it boast a pair of lock-down defensive guards in Bradley and Green and one of the league’s best rim protectors in Davis.
2. Best Big-Ball Lineup. Add Jared Dudley and DeMarcus Cousins.
LeBron James, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis
This is the five-man lineup that could be the big-ball offensive version of the Golden State Warriors’ small-ball defensive ‘Death Lineup.’ It’s a lineup that boasts five big but skilled players, including 6' 8" 250 pound LeBron James at point guard, 6' 6" 215 pound Danny Green at shooting guard, 6' 7" 235 pound Jared Dudley at small forward, 6' 10" 250 pound Anthony Davis at power forward, and 6' 11" 270 pound DeMarcus Cousins at center.
The bully-ball power of this lineup could enable the Lakers to zig while the rest of the small-ball NBA is zagging. The league has never seen a five-man lineup with this bulk and size combined with skill and athleticism. This is a lineup that can not only dominate the boards and the paint but also could spread the floor with five willing and capable three-point shooters. It’s a matchup nightmare that could be undefendable and unstoppable.
3. Best Three-Point Lineup. Add Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels.
Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
This is the five-man lineup that surrounds LeBron James and Anthony Davis with three of the most accurate three-point shooters in the league. Danny Green is a ten-year vet and career 40.4% three-point shooter, Troy Daniels is an eight-year vet and career 40.0% three-point shooter, and Quinn Cook is a four-year vet and career 41.3% three-point shooter. Both Green and Daniels also have clutch championship experience.
The ability to surround two transcendent superstars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis with three dead-eye shooters like Green, Cook, and Daniels with twenty-two years of 40% three-point shooting experience is going to be a game changing weapon for Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel. It’s also going to give LeBron and Anthony something neither enjoyed last year, the space they need to play their best and reach their potential.
4. Best Defensive Lineup. Add Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley.
Alex Caruso, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
This is the Lakers’ best five-man defensive lineup. It boasts a quartet of former or current first team All-NBA defenders in Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis plus Alex Caruso who boasted a 102.4 defensive rating last season. Bradley and Caruso give the Lakers a pair of lock-down defenders in the backcourt to go with one of the league’s best wing defenders in Green and rim and paint protectors in Davis.
Frank Vogel has a well-deserved reputation as an excellent defensive coach. He believes defense starts with protecting the rim and the three-point line and forcing teams to take contested midrange jumpers. With a team defense anchored by a perennial DPOY candidate like Anthony Davis and excellent individual defenders, the Lakers will switch less and focus on staying in front of their man. This should be best Lakers’ defense in years.