The Lakers’ Options
There are many avenues the Lakers can take to replace JaVale in the starting line-up and each of which adds to the starting 5 rather than detracts.
Option 1: Move Anthony Davis to the 5 and insert Kyle Kuzma into the starting line-up
The Lakers starting lineup gets a significant scoring punch from Kyle Kuzma and the floor spacing for the purple and gold improves dramatically as JaVale was a nonfactor in terms of 3-point shooting.
The downside is the Lakers lose their best scoring punch off the bench in Kuz and it could potentially cost them against deeper teams in the playoffs.
Option 2: Insert Dwight Howard into the starting line-up
This would be an improvement to the Lakers starting 5. Dwight Howard has been the best player on a championship-caliber team and knows what is needed of him for his team to be successful.
Being a former 3-time defensive player of the year, Howard will improve the defense in the starting line-up and will force teams to settle for jump shots rather than trying to beat Howard or Davis at the rim. The Lakers would also get significantly better on the boards both offensively and defensively which means more time with the ball in the team’s hands.
The downside is that Dwight, while a former MVP candidate is no longer the offensive force he once was and is still a nonexistent 3 point shooter meaning that the floor spacing would be similar to as if JaVale was on the floor. While Dwight is way more capable of stronger moments than JaVale, the change wouldn’t be night and day.
Option 3: Move Anthony Davis to the 5, LeBron James to the 4, Danny Green to the 3, KCP to the 2, and Alex Caruso to the 1 spot.
This is potentially the best option for the purple and gold. This option allows for the Lakers to fill the floor full of defense, the purple and gold’s strength.
It does not disrupt the Lakers second unit as the only addition is Caruso who is playing 23.8 minutes a night right now. The Lakers effectively are replacing McGee with Caruso in the starting line-up and sliding everyone else up a spot.
While Caruso isn’t a knockdown shooter, he is still capable of taking and knocking down a 3-point shot. With Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee on the court that option simply isn’t there. Caruso adds an extra level of perimeter defense to a league that is full of dangerous guards.
Anthony Davis is capable of dealing with any big man inside, LeBron James has the strength and foot quickness to burn any power forward in the league, Danny Green has the defense, build, and foot speed to make life difficult for small forwards, KCP has the length and effort to disrupt at the shooting guard position and Caruso is a big point guard and is incredibly disruptive.
The ability to switch at any given time between LeBron moving up to 5 or down to 3. AD’s ability to switch onto both forwards and the length KCP, Green, and Caruso bring to the starting line-up mean that regardless if teams switch, the Lakers are fully able to make the necessary moves within the starting line-up to deal with them.
Against teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and Miami Heat, it is going to be very important to have players who can switch at any given time and mark different positions. This line-up gives the Lakers the best chance to beat any team that goes up against them.
At any point, the Lakers can deploy JaVale or Dwight into the Line-up and overwhelm them with length but for right now this offers the most well rounded starting line-up the Lakers have.
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