To the surprise of virtually everyone, the Lakers are making a notable lineup change and not one forced by injury. Austin Reaves will come off the bench against the Suns with Cam Reddish moving to the starting lineup.
The move comes on the same night the Lakers welcome back Anthony Davis and Jaxson Hayes, which would have given them a rare look at a largely healthy rotation early this season. Dan Woike of the LA Times initially reported the lineup change.
Sources say the Lakers are making a lineup change tonight, will bring Austin Reaves off the bench and will start Cam Reddish.— Dan Woike (Click the pic ⬇️ to read) (@DanWoikeSports) November 11, 2023
Austin Reaves is, indeed, coming off the bench tonight pic.twitter.com/Qi4LzNAiWJ— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 11, 2023
The Lakers have had some issues this season with their starting lineup in a number of areas. The backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Reaves has struggled defensively and has been far too inconsistent offensively to make up for it.
Reaves was in a slump offensively to begin the year but broke out of that against the Clippers as part of a string of strong performances only broken in the team’s most recent game against the Rockets.
To state the obvious, this is likely a move that is focused on the defensive end. Reddish has been bad, frankly, offensively this season, with that never more apparent than his miss on a game-winning shot attempt against Miami — a game in which Reaves had a season-high 23 points and was one assist shy of a triple-double.
Without knowing head coach Darvin Ham’s thinking, this could be an attempt to move an initiator to the bench to run those lineups. But there are ways to do that without benching a player the Lakers just paid a lot of money to this summer.
Ultimately, if he still plays the same amount of minutes and closes the game, two things I assume will be the case, this could just be a small change for Reaves. But it is certainly a puzzling one, to put it lightly.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.