Darvin Ham said he didn’t want the Lakers to be a team with a situational starting lineup that reacted to its opponent. It comes as little surprise, then, that the Lakers plan to roll out the same starting group in their second game as they did in their season opener.
The group of Russell Westbrook, Lonnie Walker IV, Patrick Beverley, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis played only 2:54 together against the Warriors due to Beverley’s foul trouble. Per PBP Stats, that unit was outscored by three points in six possessions, but that sample size is hardly large enough to make any conclusions about how it can fare going forward.
While the Lakers stick with a set plan, their opponents are using a starting lineup that will definitely not last the test of time. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, will be coming off the bench. He’ll be replaced by Norman Powell in the starting five, alongside Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., and Ivica Zubac.
Clippers coach Ty Lue said this was what Leonard “felt comfortable with” as he works his way back from 16 months away from the game.
"This is what he feels comfortable with." - Ty https://t.co/yuePgSsyzX— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) October 21, 2022
That perspective stands in stark contrast to when the Lakers tried to bring one of their stars off the bench during the preseason. Westbrook said that his hamstring pull against Sacramento was “absolutely” a result of not starting and throwing off his routine and appears to have gotten his wish of remaining in the first group, at least for the time being.
Ham said that he and Westbrook have spoken about the incident and that the team has moved on.
D.Ham said he had a brief discussion with R.Westbrook after he said Ham bringing him off the bench “absolutely” could have played a part in his hamstring tweak in SAC. Ham said “we’ve moved on,” adding that he’ll A) Never put a player in harm’s way B) Do what’s best for the team— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 21, 2022
The Lakers are fortunate that the team with the deepest collection of wings in the league is electing not to start its tallest players, which could give the home team and its three starting guards a chance to hold up physically. But if the game is close at the end, Leonard will theoretically be available and force the Lakers to match up or put their small unit to the test.