The Lakers have a ton of depth this season. That’s a good problem for head coach Frank Vogel to have, but it’s still a problem if not managed well. Basically every player on the roster this season could reasonably talk themselves into deserving minutes in the rotation, but Vogel is unlikely to go 13-15 deep in every game. That just doesn’t happen in the NBA, so a few players are going to be left out in the cold.
So far, everyone is saying the right things about that. Rajon Rondo has said he’s not worried about his playing time. Kent Bazemore said that the team told him he’d have to compete for and earn every minute he gets. Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington all spoke at their introductory press conferences about how they just wanted to help the team win, and weren’t concerned with the size of their roles.
Granted, all of that stuff is a lot easier to say in the offseason than it is to actually feel when a player is on the outside looking in. But while it could just be a bunch of PR-friendly cliches being spewed, this team also really could be that committed to winning. Ellington certainly thinks so, and during a recent appearance on BallIsLife’s “Noble and Roosh Show,” he also outlined a few other reasons he thinks guys will be all right with not playing as much as they have in the past:
“I think we have one of the older rosters, so I think guys are able to be mature about that. We understand that everybody’s not going to be able to play 30 minutes a game, so there’s going to be sacrifice. There’s going to be sacrifices that need to be made, and I think that’s part of the understanding.
“But also, understanding that with the older roster, guys aren’t going to be able to play. Guys aren’t going to play every single game. I think you’re going to see sometimes guys get rested and that’s where the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality comes into play.”
Ellington is right. For all the jokes about the Lakers’ age, it does also functionally mean that some guys will need a bit of rest at times during the season to rehab the various nicks and knacks older bodies are more prone to picking up over the course of 82 games.
It’s why he also likes that the team made sure to add a few younger players as well:
“I think it’s a great combination, man, of basketball IQ, championship experience, hunger with the guys wanting more. You got a mix of guys that haven’t won championships who are hungry for championships. You got some young guys in Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, THT, you got some young guys that are dogs. I think it’s a great mix of veterans and some mid guys and some young guys. I think the roster was constructed beautifully.”
All of this sounds great right now, and only time will tell if the team will actually be able to live it once it’s decided who is going to play more, and who is going to play less. Unfortunately, those are answers that can’t possibly be known for sure until the team actually gets to that point, so for now, these promising signs are all we can go off of.
Still, the team actually living out the words of Ellington and others would go a long way in making sure that this team’s “good problem” of having so many players who can play doesn’t become a negative thing.