After multiple consecutive seasons of cobbling together a roster full of minimum signings and relying on aging veterans, the Lakers are once again heading into a training camp with a talented and deep roster. Even more so than when the Lakers won the title in 2020, this roster has a level of talent that will allow them a lot of flexibility.
Ham has more or less settled on the starting lineup. After announcing D’Angelo Russell would be his starting point guard in Thursday’s media availability, 80% of his starters are in place with Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Austin Reaves locks.
Not only will there be a little bit of wiggle room in the starting lineup, there will be a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the roster and depth chart as a whole. That flexibility is something Ham plans on both utilizing and learning about during training camp and the preseason.
“That’s what training camp is for, in my opinion,” Ham said at the media availability. “We’re going to tinker and entertain all different sorts of lineups: whether it’s small ball, whether it’s going big. We [might] have Austin at the point or Tauren at the two or Rui at the three or LeBron at the three and Christian and AD, it’s been such a joy to come in and look at this team as it’s currently constructed and visual all the different things we can do with it. And the type of players that we have and people, furthermore.
“These guys are open for whatever we want to try and whatever we want to attempt to try to make work. Through the course of training camp, I mean it was already done at LeBron’s mini-camp, just a variation of different combinations of players and that’ll continue through training. We’ll land on what we need land on but we’ll have several different lineups we can throw at opposing teams for sure.”
The Lakers have the ability to play both big and small lineups this season and everything in between. If Anthony Davis indeed doesn’t want to play as much center — even if he appears to be starting off strong this preseason — they can put him alongside either Jaxson Hayes or Christian Wood. If a smaller lineup with more spacing is preferred, Wood can play center with LeBron at the four and shooting around him.
There are plenty of other types of variations of lineups Ham could experiment with. As he said, that’s the point of the preseason. But it hasn’t been a luxury Ham or the Lakers have had.
Over the last two seasons, much of training camp was focused on integrating new pieces, finding a starting lineup and, to be frank, finding enough serviceable players.
The Lakers have plenty of more-than-serviceable pieces this year and are going to have time to build some camaraderie.
You know, like how normal teams do. The Lakers are being normal for once.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.