The Los Angeles Lakers have made quite a splash during this shortened NBA offseason, most notably acquiring both reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell and his runner-up Dennis Schroder.
However, the latter player apparently is apparently no longer interested in being a sixth (seventh?) man.
The former Oklahoma City Thunder guard told reporters on Monday that he wants to start alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Dennis Schroder makes his case to start: "I did this off the bench stuff already the last two years in OKC ... I think with LeBron and AD I can be helpful as a starter in the PG position."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 30, 2020
This is apparently not a surprise for the Lakers, though Schroder indicated that the conversation was through his agent and not himself. However, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin later reported that the Lakers have not settled on a starting lineup and that Schroder could actually be asked to come off the bench.
The last time Schroder regularly started was the 2017-18 season with the Atlanta Hawks.
If Schroder and the Lakers actually are all on the same page, that’s fine, though it does raise some question about how the Lakers’ rotation and starting lineup is going to work next season.
With only three exceptions, when the team went small, the Lakers started the following lineup for every game of last season’s playoffs: James, Davis, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and either Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee.
James, Davis and Caldwell-Pope are the only names remaining from that group. Harrell and Marc Gasol are natural replacements for the center duo, but Schroder is a significantly different player from Green, the guard he’d be replacing. Green is ostensibly a natural 3-and-D player with more than 80 percent of his 3-point shots coming from catch-and-shoot attempts. Schroder is definitely not that, working much more with the ball in his hands.
Green, Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley saw the majority of starts at guard in the regular season, and saw most of their action working off James as the point guard.
Schroder starting at point guard would be a departure from that game plan, and it’s unclear how the touches would break down between him and James. If anything, Schroder’s most obvious role was going to be as a Rajon Rondo replacement, coming off the bench as a ballhandler while James is out.
None of this is to say Schroder starting would be a mistake, only that it’s somewhat surprising to see a team apparently moving away from the kind of starting lineup that just won a championship.
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