The Los Angeles Lakers changed their starting lineup 13 games ago, with lottery picks Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell benched in favor of Lou Williams and Larry Nance, Jr. The Lakers have went 3-10 with since the change, a winning percentage of 23.1%, which is better than their 3-17 record (17.6%) before the change.
Other stats paint a less pretty picture. The Lakers offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) has improved over that stretch, from 96.5 to 98.4, but their defense has somehow gotten worse, with the team now giving up 111.7 points per 100 possessions compared to the previous (and already horrible) 107.2 before the change. The minor improvement on offense was not enough to offset the effects of the worsened defense, and leading to the Lakers net rating of -13.3 (second to worst in the league only to the Lakers' Friday night opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers) being worse than it was (-10.7) for the first 20 games. Despite all this, Lakers head coach Byron Scott has liked what he has seen on the floor enough to announce that no changes are coming... yet:
Byron Scott says he will not change the starting lineup tonight: "I loved the way we played (in Boston) on both sides of the floor."— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 1, 2016
D'Angelo Russell has a better chance of eventually cracking starting lineup than Randle, Byron said. Nance Jr. playing too well right now.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 1, 2016
Scott is right that Nance, Jr. is playing well, but Randle has been no slouch himself:
Since the lineup change: Nance: 22.8 min, 6.9 pts, 5.0 reb, 0.8 ast Randle: 24.6 min, 11.2 pts, 10.0 reb, 1.2 ast https://t.co/8LaqEQfu3W— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) January 1, 2016
The Lakers starting lineup will stay the same for at least one more game, but besides the efficiency numbers mentioned above, one has to wonder at what point the Lakers' rebuilding efforts will take precedence over attempts to win games. The Lakers have a 3.5 game lead on the Brooklyn Nets for the second best lottery odds, and must convey their pick to Philadelphia if it falls outside the top three. It makes sense for Russell to start playing with the starters sooner rather than later, and for all of the team's young players to start getting more minutes as soon as possible, even if it comes at the expense of wins.
All stats per NBA.com