The Los Angeles Lakers won their final preseason game Friday night, but the team is still leaving its exhibition slate with more questions than answers, and perhaps the biggest unknown the coaching staff will have to deal with is who the team will start on opening night.
Lonzo Ball would seem to be penciled in amongst the starters if he’s healthy, and his fellow lottery pick Brandon Ingram would seem to be a lock as well. Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s status as veterans also makes it unlikely they’ll miss out on hearing their name called with the first five, although the latter will miss the first two games due to a suspension.
Once Caldwell-Pope returns, however, there would seem to be only one starting spot up for grabs: power forward.
Larry Nance, Jr. started the last several preseasons games at the four, although his play wouldn’t make him seem like a lock for the spot. Julius Randle would offer some competition, but his status is unknown after back spasms forced him to leave the game early Friday. Kyle Kuzma might have been the Lakers’ best player during the preseason, but he also might make more sense with the bench unit.
The coaching staff will have to figure that out, and Luke Walton made it sound as though they aren’t close to a decision, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke Walton emphasized again that the starters are not crystalized, said they’re going to get some more scrimmaging in this week, too.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 14, 2017
The Lakers’ preseason play was mixed, to put it charitably, so it’s no surprise Walton is going to take his time before deciding on his starters since the unit he had failed to secure their spots with an iron grip.
The good news for the team is they have until Thursday to scrimmage and watch tape before they have to finalize their lineup for opening night. Don’t be surprised if that decision comes down to the wire.