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Trevor Ariza, James Worthy credit Lakers lineup versatility as strength of roster

Whether going big or small, the fact the Lakers can do both is something former Lakers Trevor Ariza and James Worthy see as a strength of the roster.

Mamba League Invitational Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES - Is it better in today’s NBA to go big with forwards and centers or go small with guards?

That’s the question I posed to Trevor Ariza and James Worthy today at the Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley before they participated in the World Peace Classic.

This celebrity golf tournament — powered by XvsX SPORTS — is hosted by Metta World Peace and all proceeds went to support his charitable cause for mental health & awareness. The charities supported are the NAMI GLAC (National Alliance on Mental Illness), YMCA and Artest University.

While I presented the modern basketball question of big vs. small as a pick-one scenario, both former Lakers gave a more nuanced answer.

“Well, for me, I think it’s always good to be versatile, always be able to do both” Ariza said. “The game calls for different things at different times. So I guess the feel of the game, they do got a lot of weapons that they can go small and they do have the ability to play big with big athletic bigs as well. So they’re very versatile. It just depends on the team that they’re playing, and how the game is going.”

The Lakers have absolutely mixed and matched with these scenarios. We’ve seen them go small using D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Max Christie and go big with Anthony Davis, Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood.

We’ve seen it work versus the Los Angeles Clippers when head coach Darvin Ham opted for the big lineup and came back from down by twenty to win and we’ve seen that same lineup fail against smaller, quicker teams.

“The beauty is you have that option when you need to go small, you go small,” Worthy said. “If your opponents are small or if you see an opportunity to expose them defensively you go small. Go big, if the opponents are big and you want to match that, or if they’re big and you want to go smaller, quicker, the beauty is having that option. You can’t go just one. You got to be able to do both.”

So, if both work, then the job of figuring out when to go big and when to go small lands in the hands of Ham. He has to know which options give the Lakers an edge and tip things in their favor.

The good news is the Lakers aren’t a one-trick pony. They have different variations and that should be a strength and advantage come playoff time, when teams will try to matchup hunt and play toward specific scenarios they find advantageous.

With the roster general manager Rob Pelinka has set up, the Lakers are less vulnerable to that and have given themselves a chance to surprise people and win it all if everything breaks their way so long as Ham pushes the right buttons and players excel in their roles.

You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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