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Report: D’Angelo Russell ‘early favorite’ to start over Gabe Vincent

The Lakers added depth to its backcourt this week, namely with Gabe Vincent, but D’Angelo Russell is still the frontrunner to be the starter.

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2023 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers’ strong weekend in free agency featured a number of sensible moves, which hasn’t always been commonplace for this front office when it comes to the offseason. On top of retaining notable free agents Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell, the Lakera added depth in Gabe Vincent and Taurean Prince.

The former of those is a particularly interesting signing. After a strong postseason run, Vincent cashed in on his performance and jumped coasts from Florida to California to join the Lakers.

Vincent served as one of the breakout players of the postseason. Comparatively, Russell ended the postseason on a much lower note with his performance against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

The result has been discussions of who will be the Lakers starting point guard to open the season. It’s a discussion that will surely carry throughout the offseason, into training camp, and likely into the season as well. For now, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic in his recent article, D’Lo is the leader in the clubhouse as things stand.

The projected lineups are fluid. Russell is the early favorite to start at point guard, but Vincent could earn the spot if he outplays him in training camp, team sources told The Athletic.

A lot of focus has been placed on the Nuggets series, which is understandable. It was the biggest and final stage of the Lakers season. But prior to that, Russell was a big reason the Lakers got one step away from the Finals.

Across the first two rounds, Russell with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves had a net rating of +11.7 while being the most-used lineup in that span at 251 minutes. That lineup barely featured in the regular season but was equally successful, sporting a +19.3 net rating in 102 minutes.

D’Lo was inconsistent in the playoffs, yes, but he was also an impactful player still. He also was an important reason the Lakers even got to the postseason. As poorly as things finished, it shouldn’t change what Russell did in getting them there. And that should be enough to at least allow him to enter the season as the starting point guard.

He’s going to have competition and very strong competition at that. Vincent is going to push him, and that should only make the Lakers better long-term. And at the end of the day, the depth the Lakers have built means they aren’t going to have to rely on any one role player.

It’s a great situation that the Lakers now find themselves in after some very strong work from the front office this weekend.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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