Lakers Nation Roundtable: Guard Rotation Upon Kobe’s Return

Lakers Nation Roundtable: Guard Rotation Upon Kobe’s Return


wesley xavierIt is only a matter of time before Kobe Bryant makes his return to the floor. And with a player like Bryant, changes will have to be made by everyone on the court in order to mesh better with Bryant. The most important change, however, will be made by coach Mike D’Antoni.

The Lakers have a plethora of guards and wing players, many of whom have been playing extremely well in Bryant’s absence, but all of their minutes will decrease in some capacity. The question is, who’s will disappear completely.
With that being said, this edition of Lakers Nation Roundtable asks the question: With Kobe’s impending return, which guard/wing is most likely to see the largest decrease in minutes?

This is what they had to say:

Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): I think Xavier Henry’s minutes will become virtually nonexistent and Jodie Meeks’ will decrease. Nick Young will likely get his minutes at the three, so Wesley Johnson’s minutes may become limited as well — even though he will likely remain a starter.

Steve Blake’s minutes should remain pretty constant until Steve Nash returns. Even then, I’d hope he continues to get minutes ahead of Nash, as he’s performing really well right now. Jordan Farmar’s minutes haven’t been significant as of late anyway, so I’d expect his to stay about the same.

If Mike D’Antoni decides to play Kobe more as a small forward, then Wesley Johnson’s minutes will reduce quite a bit, and Nick Young’s may decrease as well. With all the lineup shifts and rotation dilemmas so far this season, it should be very interesting to see how the team will adjust to the Black Mamba’s return.

Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): With Kobe Bryant on the verge of his return, one of the players in the rotation will have to take a back seat to the five time NBA champion. For the most part, the guards and wing players have done a great job filling in the void as Bryant recovers from his Achilles injury.

The Lakers knew they needed to bolster the roster with Bryant out for an extended period of time, but now that he is ready to make his return someone will be losing minutes. At this point, it appears as though Nick Young and Xavier Henry’s place in the rotation is safe, but I do see Wesley Johnson’s role diminishing.

Henry and Young have been reliable and productive for the team so far, whereas Johnson has struggled a bit to find his niche on this team. Although Johnson does bring a lot to the table with his speed and athleticism, the coaching staff will likely diminish his role once Bryant returns.

So far in 12 games, Johnson has averaged 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, numbers expected to decrease in the next few weeks.

Dan Duangdao (@DanD_NBA):When Kobe Bryant returns from his Achilles rupture, changes will naturally have to be made to the rotation. While all the players have earned their playing time this season, the player who will see the largest drop off in minutes is Shawne Williams.

Williams started at power forward alongside Pau Gasol early this season, but has only be re-inserted into the rotation due to the injury of Steve Nash. With a number of effective wing players, D’Antoni is likely going back to the rotation that has Wesley Johnson as the backup power forward.

While having Johnson at power forward isn’t ideal, he has surprisingly played well at that position and it has enabled D’Antoni to play all of his wing players.

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  • Scott Asai

    The starters should be Blake, Kobe, Henry, Hill & Pau. Farmar, Meeks & Kaman off the bench with sprinklings of Johnson at the 3 if needed. D’Antoni needs to tighten his rotations if they want to gain any consistency. You can’t change your mind every game about who’s going to play and how much. That’s what an inexperienced, scared coach does. Then again, MDA is the worst coach in the NBA, so even though I suggest this, most likely that idiot will play 11+ players and rotate them like musical chairs.


      Did you even watch the lakers last season, or any of his phx teams ?? He will have an 8 man rotation like he does every year . And he is not the worst coach in the NBA . Stop being an asshole

    • Gregory Choa

      Scott, there is NO way Henry should be starting over either Meeks or Johnson…even D’Antoni can see that! If Kobe starts at the 3, which I think is what we’ll be seeing moving forward with him, that means Jodie will start and Wes will be part of a reserve corps that will surely also include Farmar, Young, Williams and Kaman…again, I’m afraid X is the odd man out here. And, if MDA ends up having/wanting to go to a 9-man rotation, then Kaman and Williams will be battling it out to see who goes and who stays (in the rotation).

  • Gregory Choa

    I’m with Suki on this…as well as he’s been playing, I believe X Henry becomes the odd (wing) man out of the rotation. Jodie Meeks has been the team’s most improved player to this point and I think D’Antoni and the team would be much better served keeping him in the starting unit at the off-guard position and having Kobe start at the 3. Playing Bryant as the “point forward” is seriously the best idea I’ve heard of, and makes the most sense, as Kobe prepares for the final (3 year?) chapter of his storied Laker career. This way Kobe can faciliate more, post-up more and focus a little more on his defense, matching up against some of the great SFs of the league; KD, ‘Melo, Lebron, P. George and the like…both Meeks’ 3-pt shooting and ability to penetrate to the hole makes him the ideal SG for this team.

    This further means that Wes Johnson returns to the bench, but I see him playing a huge role for the Lakers off the bench as perhaps the team’s best wing defender. Nick Young is the principle scoring threat off the bench and Farmar will back up Nash/Blake…so that essentially leaves Xavier Henry out of the mix.

  • hookedonnews

    When Nash returns I think you will see Nash at PG, Blake at SG, and Kobe at SF. The minutes of Nash & Kobe will probably be limited, especially at first so Young & Henry will get their minutes. Trying to predict these things is always iffy because you never know who’s going to be hot, who’s going to be injured, etc. I don’t think anything is set in stone as far as rotations go. I think you’ll see lots of minutes for bench players like Meeks (who could be the starting SG instead of Blake) and Johnson. Plus no one knows exactly when Nash or Kobe will return so it’s really just guessing at this point. I don’t see Nash not starting at PG when he returns, regardless of how well Blake is playing. Just my opinion. Regardless, Blake will probably get as many or more minutes than Nash.

  • Jim213

    Oct 9th 2013 – Mike D’Antoni: Kobe Will See A Lot Of Time At Small Forward. Same Writer?!

    But let’s observe what the coach does given that he may be switched if things aren’t going according to plan.

  • Mrdade

    Blake, kobe, wes, hill, pau 2nd line up farmar, young/meeks , xman, williams, kaman best lineup wes is our best wing defender trust me we need him out there.

    • Gregory Choa

      Yeah, I’m really on the fence as to who is the better fit among the starters; Wes at the 3 or Jodie at the 2. And while it somewhat depends on what position Kobe is ultimately best suited for, I think he’s flexible – it should be more about which of the two; Johnson vs. Meeks, is the more valuable starter. Meeks is obviously the bigger offensive threat, and does a lot to help stretch the defense and open things up inside, but Wes adds a whole new dimension defensively to the starting unit…I see him triggering a lot of up tempo transition play with his disruptive defensive style on the wing and on the weakside…something I don’t think Kobe can do anymore.

      • Mrdade

        Yea i rather wes at the 3 because his defense is more valuable than meeks offense. Plus we can hit open shots a few alley hoops and with kobe at the 2 his natural position we wont miss meeks scoring. Only problem is how will we manage our minutes for the bench players

        • Gregory Choa

          Well, if Wes does end up starting, and forcing Meeks to the bench, then I see Meeks principally backing up Kobe at the 2, and Nick Young splitting time pretty evenly with Wes at the 3 position. There’s really no other depth issue/concern at either wing position beyond that. In case anyone were to get hurt, or run into early foul trouble, there’s always going to be X Henry as a deep reserve in either spot…outside of that occurring, I really don’t see a lot of minutes anymore for X when Kobe comes back.

  • JohnC

    The main issue here for the coach will be to keep the chemistry. LA is this year a great team. In fact, a real T E A M.

    In other words: Kobe, as a leader, will also have to do whatever necessary to keep these players performing as a team. Last year he showed he’s one of the most capable team-players in the history of the game. A team-oriented Kobe + his scoring + if he and Pau can get close to their 100% + Hill’s explosion + Kaman + Meek + Blake’s scoring & great passing skills + is Nash going to add his top-contribution?… For me, no doubt this year LA Lakers are a MUCH BETTER TEAM than last year.

    This year they have started to play and have fun and work together: this TEAM is ORIENTED TO PLAY BASKETBALL AND WIN GAMES.

    VS… Last year’s LA Lakers was oriented TO SELL T-SHIRTS.

    Can this improvement make this team a championship candidate?