Byron Scott has said that he D’Angelo Russell will return to the starting lineup at some point. All signs indicate this will likely occur after the All-Star Break when the Lakers enter their final leg of the season with only 27 games left on the schedule. This last burst should give the coach and front office ample time to see how Russell plays upon his return and offer data points to include in a development plan for the summer.
Russell’s return, however, isn’t the only change I would like to see. As the team heads into the stretch run, looking at the way to maximize all their young players by finding new lineup combinations via further rotation changes should be a priority. I mean, swapping Russell is fine, but also finding ways to play Black more, get Nance back into the rotation (good health in his knee permitting), and getting Anthony Brown back into the fold is also important.
With that, here is my proposal for the Lakers new starting 5 coming out of the All-Star Break:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brandon Bass
Why am I looking at that lineup specifically? Well, because the lineup data in the team’s most recent run of good play says it is working:
Last 10 games, that group has only appeared in 5 games for 23 total minutes. But has an OEff of 145.4 & a DEff of 87.8. Which is crazy.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) February 9, 2016
That’s a very small sample. So small, implying those numbers will predict future performance isn’t a good argument. However, over the course of the season, the sample is (somewhat) larger and tells a similar story. Over the full season, this group has appeared in 20 games and played 59 minutes together and, in those minutes, the team’s Offensive efficiency is 122.1 and their defensive efficiency is 104.5.
This sample isn’t much larger and with the movement in the numbers it implies the stretch before these last several games wasn’t so hot. However, those minutes would also include the stretches where Kobe was at his worst this season and when Bass was not playing very well at all. Balance all of this out, then, and a longer look at what this lineup could do is in order.
No change comes without consequences, though. And this change, specifically the Bass move to the starting lineup, would cause other ripple effects as Roy Hibbert would be removed from the starting group and the bench unit would lose a key player who has done well in his role. In the wake of this change, I would make the following rotation adjustments (note: these changes assume good health for the entire roster, including Larry Nance):
- Tarik Black and Roy Hibbert would split the back up C minutes, but with Black taking the majority of the minutes
- Larry Nance would back up Randle at PF
- Anthony Brown would return to the rotation as the back up SF
- Lou Williams would be the swing guard, playing SG and PG as needed
This would create the following 9/10 man rotation: Russell, Clarkson, Kobe, Randle, Bass, Lou, Brown, Nance, Black/Hibbert. In this setup, Clarkson would be the back up PG, Black/Hibbert minutes might be switched up by match up (though, as noted, Black would get the priority), and Nick Young would be the 3rd string SF (and would play when Kobe sat). Huertas, Sacre, and Ron would be the “break glass in case of emergency” players who do not see any minutes unless there are a rash of injuries or extreme foul trouble.
These changes might cause some groans from the veterans. Byron would need to communicate to his players effectively, making sure they understand the reasons for these changes and what his expectations are for them for the rest of the year. I would imagine this discussion would focus on the want to get better looks at the young players while also playing the veterans who have earned the minutes (in this case, Lou and Bass have been better than Young and Hibbert).
In the end, I don’t see many good reasons to not shift towards the lineups I mention above, especially the starting group. Kobe needs to play — it’s his final year. But the focus also needs to shift more towards the young players. That means Russell back to being a starter and pairing him with better P&R options as often as possible (Bass, Black, and then Nance). Hopefully, Scott and the front office see things similarly.
*Some might ask why start Bass instead of Black? Well, the numbers — though some of them are small samples — tell me some pairings work better than others. Consider the following pairings:
- Bass/Randle: 314 minutes, 100.0 OEff, 101.9 DEff
- Black/Randle: 47 minutes, 99.8 OEfff, 128.6 DEff
- Bass/Nance: 174 minutes, 94.2 OEff, 104.4 DEff
- Black/Nance: 49 minutes, 95.5 OEff, 88.9 DEff
These numbers are pretty self explanatory. It’s clear which pairings have worked better together this year. Why not try to suss out if there is staying power in these numbers? If there is, the team may find some things which can be part of the future. If not, well, you learn something from that as well.
Agree with your lineup changes. Although I would prefer Black over Bass as starting center (he needs to play with D’Angelo) even if the metrics argue otherwise. The goal is player development, not wins that take the team out of the lottery game.
Warren Lim says
Notwithstanding possible roster moves.
ill give u a Lakers future starting lineup
Clarkson / Blue
Williams / Young
Simmons / Brown
Nance / Randle
Whiteside / Upshaw
Nice article, Darius. Timely, too.
I agree with your lineups for the most part although I would like to see Black start a few games and see what he can do in, say, 28 minutes of PT (if he can stay out of foul trouble).
I’d also like to see the Lakers experiment with a “defensive” lineup such as the following
PG – Russell
SG – Clarkson
SF – A. Brown
PF – Nance, Jr.
C – T. Black
That would put our 3 best defenders on the back line. Together, they might even shame Russell and Clarkson into playing more intense defense.
Finally, if the Lakers can free up a couple of spaces on the team (right now they’ve got a full house with 15 players on contract), I’d like to see them bring in Vander Blue and, perhaps, Robert Upshaw (although I’m still not totally convinced he’s ready) from the D League. Last night (February 8th), Upshaw had 14 pts., 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks while Vander Blue was on fire, going for 37 pts., 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Below are some highlights of Blue’s performance from last night:
Blue has a nice stroke from deep. Don’t you think?
Of course, it’s only the D League.
^^^^^ what’s wrong with this guy… Nice write up Darius but i do agree with anon that the Lakers should give Tarik Black more burn at the center position over Bass who might be gone soon…
No more then 20 minutes for Kobe….No running plays at the end for Kobe.No upside having Kobe on the team right now.He had his time…..Lets start moving on now….Watching him take 25 shots and missing most of them is not good for anyone…..
Agree with all above except first Anon. Young gone
Lou traded for draft and big
Randle has been best guy on floor last 6 games.
But we know the identity of that poster now don’t we Jimmy?
Eddie Pinetti says
Dear god anything to get rid of Byron Scott… How Magic Johnson vouched for this jacka$$ still baffles me… I can’t wait to see him and his smelly dress socks fired and gone forever from Staples
Just Anthony says
What about Ryan Kelly though?!
Does anyone think clarkson is better than monta ellis?
I’d take Nance over Randle at the 4 – given he’s more apt in playing off the ball. But it may be best to try all three out (Russell, JC and Randle) as starters to see if there’s promise. No point in Scott trying to win more games now with close to 30 games remaining.
Thus, best for Lou to come off the bench at this point. It’s about youth development now (it has been since late 2015) tho the problems been Scott’s stubborn ways in prioritizing a few more wins over youth development while knowing the team’s future seasonal outcome since December.
Statisticly clarkson is better than the following shooting guards,
Ellis, reddick, oladipo, afflalo, eric gordon, mclemore, and if he was more consistent he would be there with middleton
Trent Hawk says
Although, i agree with the assesment could the inefficient big man numbers be skewed because of backcourt groupings? I would like to see more of a Randle/Black pairing. Under-sized but I think while both need to improve on D, more so Randle than Black, the strength/power on defense and rebounding, while having the ability to create space for each other on offense will flourish. Especially once both continuing developing the 15-17 footer with Randle eventually moving to the arc.
I wonder if the team would flourish in the triangle offense, players like, randle, russell, clarkson, and black, are constantly looking to create space on offense, and it seems like it would fit their style well
How times have changed….i remember when the season started and BS played bass as a 5, people here were killing him. Now he is part of our most productive lineup as a center….
Great read as always 🙂 agree with that proposal, especially black to back up bass….i would cut hibberts and sacres minutes as much as i can 🙂
Great article. Good ideas. Remember BS is BS
But I’ll put Black over Bass. Blackis improving on P&R-D situations in last 4 games. But he needs to play more and more man.
I think basketball is beyond stats, it’s chemistry as well, so, Black & Russell had. It’s so evident!
Clarkson and Lou Williams on the backcourt it’s insane. Clarkson is improving on D-end but this dude Lou is irritating. HE CANNOT PLAY D.
We played 51 games and all these changes, in my opinion, had had already been made. I was wondering if Julius started by 40 games. He’ll be possible in top 3 rebounders of the league.
It’s strange that Byron calls everybody impatient, however, mutatis mutandis, he’s the most longing laker
Never happening as long as Scott is Coach- plus Bass most likely to be traded!
Agreed Bleed that tells you how much we know lol…
Darius, given the numbers you listed why not start Black over Bass? And Nance over Randle. It is a smaller sample size but that is the best plus minus pairing out of the groups you listed.
Todays rumors from a privite undisclosed place.
Griz talking to Lakers about Lurch Hibbert.
Gasol out for season with broken foot.
Dont understand the fixation on D Leaguers and fringe talent. If your looking at those type of guys then ur team stinks. Which we do and for good reason “the pick”. So relax people and dont worry about lineups at this point. Half these guys wont be on the team when they truly become contenders.
KO: I looked that the trade machine and don’t see how we ship out Hibbert without taking on Memphis contracts that extend beyond this year. They don’t have any young talent that would make taking the cap hit beyond this year worth it. Hibbert’s not worth a 1st round pick so I don’t see any incentive on the Lakers’ part.
I don’t think a deal get’s done. Without Gasol and Conley the Grizzlies are old and not very talented.
Darius Soriano says
I’d prefer to start Randle because he’s the higher ceiling player and needs more floor time to develop. He’s also been playing very well since he re-entered the starting lineup. This isn’t a knock on Nance who I really like.
As for Black, I’m fine starting him, but do like Bass as a player. I also do not think Bass is getting traded. I’m totally fine playing Black 25 minutes a night. Nance’s injury status may also mean Bass ends up getting some minutes at PF in the remaining games.
Ah I see. Thanks Darius. Although, I really like the line up Mid-Wilshire posted. 🙂
Renato Afonso says
I totally agree with this last reply of yours. Nothing more to add.
– Anyone ever hear of this “what if” trade?
Sources reveal 2007 Kobe-for-LeBron trade talk by Brian Windhorst, ESPN Senior Writer
Chris J says
I like the proposal but worry about the backcourt defense. Clarkson and Russell together is a sieve, but they need to learn to play D and play with one another, so really there’s nothing to lose. As much as Brown can be paired there, that’s a plus as he’s a defender.
This article must be satire … Charlie Rosen explaining how Rambis is going to make it all better for the Knicks. Maybe PJ is waiting for BS to be available. Shouldn’t be too long of a wait.
I never thought “losing” PJ was such a disaster for the Lakers.
Kerr’s looking pretty smart isn’t he.
Chris J says
I worked as an intern in the Knicks organization in fall 1994, when they traded for Doug Christie. People thought he’d be a difference maker, the guy to help them win the Finals after losing to Houston earlier that year. He then played all of 12 games, less than 80 minutes total, before the Knicks realized what Lakers fans already knew: Doug Christie was a big tease, great athlete but not a good NBA player.
That Rosen article reminded me of the rose-colored glasses people in that city put on whenever they get someone or something new. And just as Lakers fans could have told Knicks fans re: Christie in 1994, “We know this guy; don’t get your hopes up” — the same could be said about Coach Rambis today. He’s an assistant coach, at best, and we’ve seen the results when others tried to show otherwise.
Rosen’s a co-author of Phil’s I think a former assistant and perhaps chanelling the great one’s thoughts in this case? Monumental delusion I’d call it in any event.
some people are not meant to be head coaches some people are not meant to be general managers some people are not meant to be governors. we have seen the results when they tried to show otherwise.
KO, trading Hibbert for what? Seriously? you hate the guy ok we get it but what we get in return if we get rid of him? The Grizzlies have nothing the Lakers want, you dislike Hibbert so much that your willing to get whatever multi year refuse they would love to dump on us while they get a cushy expiring contract, thank God your not a GM . It’s a shame though because he would be a pretty good fit in that slow tempo team…
A very cogent analysis with an unfortunately flawed premise.
Why would we want the Lakers to play better, win more games, and jeapordize their chances of a high draft pick?
I think Byron Scott’s brutally out-of-date and semi-incompetent handling of the Lakers this season is exactly what the team required to have the best shot at Ben Simmons.
Of course, next year I want BS’s folded-arms scowl gone alongside Kobe’s narcissistic low-percentage heaving, but for now they’re at least potentinally helping the Lakers long-term.
And, yes, it is rather sad the Lakers have fallen to this after years of questionable decisions and bad breaks.
Temple of 42,
I wouldn’t worry about it too much. This Lakers team could improve itself by 30% and they’d still lose. In fact, I expect them to finish the season with 16 wins. There. You heard it here first. Six. Teen. No more. No less.
So…the point of experimenting with lineups now is to find out what will work for next year. After all, this is preseason. An 82-game preseason. But…preseason, nonetheless.
Baylor Fan says
TOJW – because the Lakers need to figure out who are the keepers. Don’t worry, only Kobe controls how much time he is on the court and BS Reasons will be here for the duration of the season.
Please READ THE POST.
That was not from me but a NBA Agent who reps certain people in Laker organization. I doubt there is any deal but Griz are inquiring.
Clearly Griz need a center and their slow down offense fits Roy.
In life it helps to read and decipher prior to denigrating another post. Thanks
Ko I didn’t denigrate anything and btw i deciphered how on board you were with the idea on the post.