Things are starting to look up for the Lakers. After a brutal start to their season, the team has rattled off three straight wins with their latest coming via a 31 point blowout of the Spurs on Sunday. It’s also worth noting that the Lakers are set to play the Spurs twice more this week alone.
A big reason for the team’s slow, but steady, climb out of the Western Conference basement has come through strong individual play from multiple sources during LeBron James’ absence. Most notably, Anthony Davis’ continued terrorizing of the paint and rim.
The Lakers have also had some good fortune in the form of the returns of Dennis Schröder and Thomas Bryant to the rotation. Both players have had encouraging flashes in their minutes back from injury, and also brings to the team closer to full strength with James’ return on the horizon.
In terms of when James will actually hit the floor again, his earliest return may come as soon as Tuesday in the team’s bout with the Suns. James has officially been listed as “questionable” for the contest, but with each passing day the likelihood of a return only increases.
James’ return obviously should be a big boost to the team’s improved play, but also does create some difficult lineup decisions for Darvin Ham and his staff.
The starting lineup of Patrick Beverley, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker, Troy Brown Jr and Davis have played very well recently, and are a +54.2 in their time on the floor together thus far. Reaves and Walker specifically, have been steady contributors on offense and have helped shore up the scoring hole James has left behind.
However, once James gets inserted back into the starting five, a tough decision will likely need to be made between Beverley and Reaves in particular. Does the team ride Reaves’ hot-hand and opt for the more competent scoring threat, or do they give the nod to the experience and intangibles Beverley provides? The answer brings us to today's episode.
On this week’s edition of Talk-O-Tuesday, hosts Alex Padilla and Alex Regla discussed the possible lineup ramifications that may transpire with James’ return, and made the case for both Reaves and Beverley.
The duo also discussed the factors that have led to Davis’ strong play, Reaves’ sophomore season thus far and preview the team’s next game against Phoenix.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.