An Important Disclaimer: Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has said he will “tinker” with various lineups throughout training camp, and that he hasn’t committed to a fifth member of the team’s starting lineup alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell.
But with those caveats out of the way, and while acknowledging this could be much ado about nothing, it appears that the incumbent Jarred Vanderbilt got the nod over Rui Hachimura — or even a two-big lineup with Christian Wood — in at least the final scrimmage of the team’s first day of training camp on Tuesday in El Segundo (via Jovan Buha of The Athletic on X):
“For those keeping track, the starters are all wearing purple jerseys (Davis, Reaves) with the bench players wearing white (Vincent, Wood, Prince, etc.). Jarred Vanderbilt is wearing purple; Rui Hachimura is wearing white. That suggests Vando got run with the starters (at least in the final scrimmage).”
For what it’s worth, Vanderbilt having the edge here — if he actually does — is completely fair, at least to start camp. He’s the Lakers’ best wing defender, started during a run to the Western Conference Finals, and seems to have worked on everything the team hoped the freshly extended 24-year-old would try to improve at over the offseason.
Does that mean he should certainly be the starter over Hachimura, though? Not necessarily. There is a real argument to be made for Rui’s increased offensive punch, which is why he eventually took over Vando’s spot in the WCF.
But is Hachimura more valuable there in every single matchup? That’s something Ham and the rest of the coaching staff will have to mull over throughout the remainder of training camp and as the preseason continues.
Other Lineup Notes
Those hoping for a two-big starting group with Wood alongside Davis may be left waiting to see that lineup, at least according to early indications, because so far Ham is mostly having them play against each other as the starting and backup center:
Christian Wood said he and Anthony Davis were matched up against each other all practice.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) October 3, 2023
Christian Wood said his first Lakers practice was “great,” noting how competitive it was. He said he went up against Anthony Davis for most of the practice today, though he expects some alignments with them playing together will come.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 3, 2023
In what will surely be universally welcomed news, though, it sounds like everyone fully participated and made it through Day 1 without injury:
Everybody was healthy and available for the Lakers today.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 3, 2023
Do you like what you’re hearing so far about the lineups, and from training camp overall? Let us know in the comments below.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.