Questions about the Lakers lineups have surfaced. What should they go with?
This was one of the more successful off-seasons for the Lakers in terms of filling out an already great team with marginal pieces that fit multiple needs surrounding the roster. By bringing in guys like Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish while also retaining Rui Hachimura, D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, the Lakers now have even better depth than they had post trading deadline. But some interesting discussions have rose up within the Lakers fan base about who should start between D'Angelo Russell and Gabe Vincent, now Rui Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt with Taurean Prince sprinkled in there a little bit. So I am going to go over what the best course of action should be for the starting lineup and why the certain player works within that lineup.
Gabe Vincent or D'Angelo Russell?
Gabe Vincent is an undrafted player who rose into the starting spot for the Miami Heat over the season as Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro were dealing with multiple injuries. He solidified himself as the perfect compliment player next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with his timely shot making and point of attack defense. Lakers fans have begun to discuss if starting Vincent over D'Angelo Russell should be the way to go and the simple answer is.....NO.
Let's keep in mind what I said about how Gabe Vincent earned his way into the Heat lineup, injuries to Lowry, Herro and Oladipo and he indeed proved he can be a starter on teams that don't have a guard in front of him. That's not D'Angelo Russell. Russell is still one of the leagues most talented offensive point guards despite his struggles in the playoffs versus Denver.
One thing fans tend to forget is the chemistry that Russell has already established with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves. To the point where everyone's plus and minus skyrocketed with him on the court (Reaves the most at +166). Russell is statistically one of the best pick and roll players in the league as a scorer and passer which compliments Anthony Davis extremely well. Gabe Vincent was also among one of the better pick and roll passers but not scorers. Russell is also a 40% 3 point shooter over the past year so his gravity and ability to string off shots in a hurry opens so much more for everyone else. So this answer was easy, Russell should be the Lakers starting point guard since he is still capable of being an X-Factor any given night next to AD, LeBron and Reaves.
Jarred Vanderbilt or Rui Hachimura?
Now we've reached a little bit of the fun discussion. Jarred Vanderbilt or Rui Hachimura? Like D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt struggled to find consistent minutes on the floor during the playoffs and was benched here and there. Rui Hachimura showed he is able to step up in those situations. However, if you look over the 82 game span, Vanderbilt is actually more valuable as a starter than Hachimura will be.
Let me explain, when the Lakers traded for D'Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt - one thing the team was missing dearly was an active defender in their starting 5 that did all the dirty work that Anthony Davis wasn't going to do. That became Vanderbilt early on and became a potent defensive tandem next to AD. Sure Vanderbilt is very limited offensively while Hachimura is limited defensively. But if the team wants to retain what made it so good, Vanderbilt is the obvious pick to the starter. HOWEVER, it also depends on the matchup. Let's say the Lakers have a stretch of games where the opposing team like Denver is more interior oriented instead of exterior oriented (has an inside game more than the outside game) Vanderbilt would be more useful off the bench in those situations where you can put Rui on bigger bodies and would just trust D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves to chase around the lesser ball handlers on the opposing team's (although good luck trying to chase around Jamal Murray, both players did well on Steph Curry in the playoffs).