If Kobe’s Out, Which Lakers Five Will Start The Season?
Possible Lineup #3: Defense First
- PG: Steve Nash
- SG: Steve Blake
- SF: Welsey Johnson
- PF: Jordan Hill
- C: Pau Gasol
Although Nick Young may be needed to pick up some of the offensive slack while Kobe Bryant recovers, and it’ll surely be beneficial for him to play significant minutes alongside Steve Nash, if D’Antoni foresees Young as the Lakers’ offensive spark off the bench and backup to Kobe in the long run, it may be best to let him get accustomed to that role early on.
With this lineup, Nash, Blake, and Gasol would keep the ball moving with a traditional wing player (Johnson) as well as a rugged offensive rebounder in Jordan Hill. (For edification, Jordan Hill, in 29 games last season, he had a remarkable ORB%, of 18.1.)
There certainly may be matchup problems if Blake is faced with a larger shooting guard, but I have a feeling it’s a risk D’Antoni’s willing to make if the offense is flowing well — not to mention the fact that Steve Blake is a scrappy defender who doesn’t back down from any player, no matter how big his opponent may be.
Although he spent just approximately 20 percent of his time on the floor at the shooting guard position last season, Blake’s opponents’ PER was 11.5, compared with 17.5 when he was guarding point guards. Nick Young’s opponents’ PER was 14.2 last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, although his individual PER (11.6) was higher than Blake’s (9.9) at the shooting guard spot.
This lineup would also allow for Jodie Meeks and Nick Young to come in together with Jordan Farmar for an extremely fast-paced, quick-shooting lineup. For anyone wondering, I don’t foresee Meeks starting any games as he wasn’t very effective as a starter last season, but had his moments as a reserve. Again, if kept on board, Xavier Henry could be thrown into the rotation as well.
This would truly allow D’Antoni to run his run-and-fun style of basketball within the second unit if he chooses to go with a stretch four in addition to Farmar, Meeks/Henry, and Young. We likely wouldn’t always see five reserves on the floor together, but if he wanted to, he could have a combination of the aforementioned players alongside any player he designates as the stretch four, as well as whichever big man he opts to roll with — either Gasol, Kaman, or Hill. All three are capable rebounders, so the combination certainly could work.
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