What’s the Lakers’ Best Rotation?

Four simple keys the Los Angeles Lakers must follow to optimize their chances of building a championship quality rotation

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Despite missing out on Kawhi Leonard and being forced to revert to Plan B, the Los Angeles Lakers still have a good opportunity to win a championship if they optimize their current roster by following these four simple principles:

  1. Keep a superstar in lineup at all times.
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Rotation to keep a superstar in lineup at all times (24 minute half)

The great thing about LeBron James and Anthony Davis is that they’re not only superstars but also complete players around whom you can build your offense and defense. They can score the ball inside or out, rebound the ball and start the fast break, and create great opportunities for their teammates with their elite playmaking abilities. They’re so good that head coach Frank Vogel must structure his rotations so one of them is on the floor all the time.

The one disadvantage of this strategy is that it requires your superstars to play every game and limits when you can rest them for load management. Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel will have to find those games on the schedule where there’s an opponent that’s not playing well or missing key players due to injury so he can get LeBron and AD the occasional day off to keep them fresh. In the end, the goal is still to have your superstars fresh for the playoffs.

2. Start and finish games with five best players.

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Rotation to start and finish games with five best players (24 minute half)

The Lakers only have five legitimate starter quality players so it’s important to maximize their playing time as well as start and finish halves and games with those five players even if that creates issues on defense or holes in the bench. The goal is to generate an early lead and strong close by having the best five players on the team start and close games. This rotation will ensure that the Lakers will always have their best lineup on the floor for 70% of the time.

Keeping LeBron James or Anthony Davis on the floor at all times will enable the Lakers to always have a go-to player during the 30% of the time that they don’t have their five best players on the floor. That’s going to be critical in keeping leads and giving the four backup players more confidence because they’ll know they have a superstar on the floor who can always either create a basket for himself or a teammate. It’s a benefit very few NBA teams can boast.

3. Deploy ten-man rotation to cover weaknesses.

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Ten-man rotation to cover weaknesses (24 minute half)

Right now the Lakers don’t have two or three bench players with complete skill sets to limit their rotation to the ideal seven or eight players. That means they will have to expand their rotation to ten players so they can cover the weaknesses of their current bench players. The above rotation attempts to put the best defense, shooting, and playmaking possible during those sixteen minutes per game that James or Davis are the only starter left in the game.

Off the bench, Rajon Rondo gets the twelve backup minutes at point guard behind LeBron, Avery Bradley gets the sixteen backup minutes at shooting guard behind Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets the sixteen backup minutes at small forward behind Kyle Kuzma, Jared Dudley gets the twelve backup minutes at power forward behind Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee gets the sixteen backup minutes at center behind DeMarcus Cousins.

4. Tighten to eight-man rotation before playoffs.

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Eight-man rotation for playoffs (24 minute half)

The Lakers clearly need to make moves this summer or at the trade deadline to tighten their rotation to seven and a half players before the playoffs start. The simplest way to accomplish this is to add Andre Iguodala as the fifteenth player before the start of the season. I would even consider giving Memphis a future first round or pair of second round picks for a minimum salary player to be cut in a handshake deal to get them to waive Iggy so he can join Lakers.

Adding Andre Iguodala or a solid defensive wing who can fill the same role and tightening the rotation for the playoffs means Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are eliminated from the rotation. Basically, three guards fill the 96 minutes at point and shooting guard, three bigs fill the 96 minutes at power forward and center, and Jared Dudley covers the remaining 12 minutes per game needed to back up Iggy at small forward.

The Lakers can build a championship quality rotation by following these four simple principles: keeping a superstar in the lineup all the time, starting and closing games with their five best players, deploying a ten-man rotation to cover weaknesses, and tightening to an eight-man rotation for the playoffs.

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