3 Things to Know

Lakers vs. Mavericks: 3 Things to Know (7/23/20)

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

With the Lakers set to get back on the basketball court against somebody in a different jersey for the first time since March, here are three things to know before the 4 p.m. tip against Dallas on Spectrum SportsNet:

Ease on Into it, Fellas!
A scrimmage might look like a game, especially since the Purple and Gold jerseys will be donned, but this is really an extension of practice where the primary goal for Frank Vogel is to work towards in-game conditioning as the eight seeding games and ultimately, the playoffs, approach.

Here’s how Kyle Kuzma described it.

“Just to get our legs under ourselves and be able to compete,” he said. “You can probably expect a lot of sloppiness, a lot of tired people. I wouldn’t look at this scrimmage as Game 1 or anything, I don’t think guys are going to be in their best shape until the playoffs.”

The Starting Lineup: Insert KCP
Frank Vogel noted that he hasn’t 100 percent decided how the Lakers will replace Avery Bradley in the starting lineup … but 99 percent is pretty high! Expect Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to take the opposite wing from Danny Green, and to defend point guards on the other end. This is an easy call for Vogel, especially since the Lakers went 17-3 when KCP started in Bradley’s place earlier in the season.

“KCP has been one of the brightest parts of the season,” Vogel summarized. “He had a terrific stretch there particularly that time where Avery was out. After a little bit of a slow start, being one of the leaders on our team in playing harder than our opponent. The hustle, the intensity, changing ends of the floor, and then the shot-making that he exhibited during that stretch and really most of our season was a huge reason for our record.”

Look For an Extended Rotation
When the playoffs start, we can expect the rotation to be shortened considerably, maybe looking like this:

Starters: LeBron, KCP, Green, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee
Likely Regular Subs: Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard
Available for as long as is needed: Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris, Dion Waiters, JR Smith
Young guys: Talen Horton-Tucker, DeVontae Cacok, Kostas Antetokounmpo
Recovering from surgery: Rajon Rondo

There’s certainly room for mobility here, as Vogel could want more guard play and need either Cook or Waiters to play more as an extra ballhandler. He might want to play a little bigger off the bench and insert Morris regularly alongside Kuz and Howard. Or perhaps he’ll want more shooting in certain lineups, and insert Smith or Dudley. Maybe Horton-Tucker impresses as much as he has in practice and he earns some minutes.

Thanks to a 5.5-game lead in the West, the Lakers have the luxury of trying out all kinds of things in the scrimmages and the seeding games before Vogel will likely want to replicate a playoff rotation towards the actual playoff date of Aug. 17.

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