Training camp is underway for the Los Angeles Lakers as they prepare for the 2019-2020 NBA season and we are already hearing plenty of great things about the squad. The defense has been the focal point so far, which fits not only coach Frank Vogel’s reputation as a coach but also the personnel that has been assembled.
On this episode of the LN Podcast, host Trevor Lane takes a look at the latest news coming out of camp. Who has impressed and what might that mean for Vogel’s rotation?
For example, the early word has been that Rajon Rondo has spent some time running with the starting unit and Vogel has envisioned him playing off the ball alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, is that really the best fit for the Lakers, or even the best fit for Rondo? Vogel compared Rondo to assistant coach Jason Kidd’s final seasons of his career when he transitioned into being a spot-up three-point shooter. The problem, as we detail on the show, is that Kidd turned into not just a reliable shooter but also still maintained some value as a defender as he aged. Rondo has largely struggled on the defensive side of the ball and opposing teams haven’t show much respect for his three-point shooting, robbing the Lakers of any floor spacing that his surprisingly solid percentages would normally yield.
Perhaps this is a conclusion that Vogel will eventually settle upon, particularly since Rondo’s playmaking theoretically has more value with James off the floor. If he doesn’t start, Alex Caruso could potentially get the nod, though he has largely run with the second unit thus far in camp. It is noteworthy, however, that Vogel has deployed the 6’5″ Caruso as both a point guard and shooting guard.
Avery Bradley has turned heads with his defensive play to the point where Vogel has had to tell Lakers players not to dribble in front of him. On a team so focused on defense, is it possible that Bradley’s defense makes him a must-start for Vogel?
Plus, the Lakers have done the right thing by keeping DeMarcus Cousins in the fold despite his likely season-ending ACL tear. While decisions like that may appear to be trivial on the surface, the goodwill that’s fostered when a team does right by a player can pay dividends down the road.
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