A lot has changed since the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors last met in April. Over the last four months, the two teams added 16 players, including NBA All-Stars Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell.
The Warriors also bid farewell to the Oracle Area in Oakland, where they hoisted three Larry O’Brien trophies with the help of their Finals MVPs Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, who are no longer with the team.
On Saturday, the new-look Warriors will host the Lakers for their first game at the brand new Chase Center in San Fransisco. While neither team will be at full-strength, there will be plenty of star power on the court.
Davis will make his debut in the purple and gold alongside his superstar teammate LeBron James on Saturday, while Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green are expected to start for the Warriors. All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson, who suffered a torn ACL in June, won’t be available until at least the All-Star break in February.
The Lakers will also be shorthanded, as Kyle Kuzma (stress reaction), Jared Dudley (knee soreness) and Talen Horton-Tucker (stress reaction) will be sidelined for Saturday’s matchup. Kuzma and Horton-Tucker will be re-evaluated in less than two weeks, while Dudley is day-to-day, according to head coach Frank Vogel.
Speaking of Vogel, the 18-year veteran coach will get his first look at his star-studded team against players that aren’t his own. He’ll also assemble his first starting lineup as Lakers head coach and there’s no one spot more interesting in the rotation than point guard.
A lot has been made about how Avery Bradley has looked in training camp so far, but Vogel has made it no secret that he’s a fan of Rajon Rondo and neither has Davis, who played with Rondo in New Orleans. Whoever Vogel decides to start will have their work cut out for them between Curry and Russell, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the starting point guard spot will probably go to who defends elite guards at the highest level.
Expect Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee to round out the rest of the first unit.
It will be hard to evaluate the bench unit considering two key pieces — Kuzma and Dudley — are missing, but with a shortage of help on the wings, Vogel will likely have to experiment with three-guard lineups featuring Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
It’s been a long wait, but Lakers basketball is finally back and (hopefully) better than it was last season. Tip-off is 5 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.