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Lakers vs. Nuggets Preview: Another day, another starting lineup

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is out, which means someone else will start for the Lakers on Monday.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Before the NBA suspended its season in March, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel only had to change his starting lineup seven times in 63 games. Since the season restarted, he’s had to change it twice, and with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope set to miss the Lakers’ game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday due to a right foot contusion, he’ll have to change it again.

The number of injuries the Lakers have dealt with early on in Orlando, in combination with the number of new players they’ve tried to integrate, has made it difficult for Vogel to build a consistent rotation. However, Vogel hasn’t made it easy on himself either.

For example, in the Lakers’ first five seeding games, Waiters averaged 22.5 minutes per game. Last game, he was a DNP-CD. Additionally, JaVale McGee, who’s been a regular starter this season, was a DNP-CD against the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Suffice to say, Vogel’s lineup decisions have been unpredictable, and with just a week until the start of the playoffs, he doesn’t plan on locking in his rotation just yet.

“We’re still going to look at different combinations and get guys involved,” Vogel said. “We’re not going to have a full ‘This is our playoff rotation mindset’ tomorrow night. We’re still going to work in some guys and get them familiar with our system and the way we’re playing.”

With Caldwell-Pope sidelined, expect Alex Caruso, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee to start. That lineup has only played 10 minutes together this season, but they’ve posted a ludicrous net rating of +57.9 in those 10 minutes.

If Caruso doesn’t get the starting nod, it will likely be because Vogel wants to reward Quinn Cook for his big night against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. It could also be because he likes the pairing of Caruso and Waiters off of the bench, and rightfully so. In the 47 minutes Caruso and Waiters have played together, they’ve posted a net rating of +27.7.

But with Jamal Murray expected to start for the Nuggets, it might not be the best idea to start Cook unless Vogel is confident the Lakers can hide Cook on defense. Murray scored 23 points in Denver’s double-overtime win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Considering the last meeting between the Lakers and Nuggets also went to overtime, Monday’s game should be an exciting one, assuming both teams are motivated to play.

The Lakers and Nuggets will tip-off at 6 p.m. PT on TNT nationally and Spectrum SportsNet locally. We’ll have more information on the starting lineup before then.

Notes and Updates

  • Alex Caruso (left neck muscle spasms), Anthony Davis (sprained right ankle), Danny Green (sore right hip), Dwight Howard (sore right knee), LeBron James (sore right groin) and Markieff Morris (left hip contusion) are all probable to play on Monday.
  • Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will start in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Frank Vogel revealed in his pregame media availability. The five-man lineup of LeBron James, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee has played a total of zero minutes together this season.
  • Frank Vogel plans to get Dion Waiters back into the rotation on Monday, but not at the expense of Talen Horton-Tucker.
  • Frank Vogel confirmed the report from Chris Haynes that Rajon Rondo is in Orlando working out with Kurt Rambis. Vogel said it was the front office’s decision to have Rambis workout with Rondo.

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