On Sunday, when the Los Angeles Lakers played the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center, DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore were healthy scratches. Prior to that game, Bazemore had started every game for the team, and Jordan had been a regular starter with the exception of two games he came off the bench, and one in which he didn’t play at all.
As the team gets closer to full strength, it won’t get any easier for Bazemore, Jordan or anyone near the bottom of Frank Vogel’s pecking order to crack the rotation, but Vogel plans on finding ways to keep everyone involved as the season progresses.
“We don’t want any of our rotation guys to go with too many consecutive DNP’s,” Vogel said before the Lakers’ loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday. “We want to keep everybody fresh. The conversation was simple, it’s just something that’s best for our team right now, and everybody that’s in a Lakers’ uniform this year signed up for a role to come in and do whatever the team needs, and sacrifice when necessary. So it’s as simple as that.”
Both Bazemore and Jordan got some run on Monday and, ironically, they were the only two players that were positives in the box score. It’s possible that they resume their spots in the starting lineup once LeBron James returns from injury, but given how they’ve performed in his absence, that seems unlikely.
Bazemore and Jordan aren’t the only players at risk of losing a spot in the rotation, though. Whenever Kendrick Nunn returns, the minutes at guard are expected to be scarce, so players that have seen regular minutes as of late like Avery Bradley, Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk and Rajon Rondo could all get DNPs later on in the season.
The good news is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone outside of the big three too prideful to come off of the bench, which is more than what can been said about last year’s team. That selflessness was also a key characteristic of the Lakers’ 2019-29 championship team, specifically when it came to the center position occupied by Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee.
Granted, that humility hasn’t really been put to the test yet because of how shorthanded the Lakers have been as a team, but there’s reason to be optimistic that tempers won’t flare up as the season progresses. Everyone has made it clear from the start of training camp that they came Los Angeles to win a championship and the only way they’re going to do that is if they all buy in. So far, everyone has.