The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly are going back to the starting lineup that they mainly used in the playoffs last season.
The Lakers are expected to start D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt and Anthony Davis on Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
So, Darvin Ham has been known to change his mind even on game days on this, but I’m hearing last year’s starters will start tonight.
D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Jarred Vanderbilt, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) January 21, 2024
It sounds like Vanderbilt is taking the starting spot of forward Taurean Prince, who has been ruled out of the game with a knee injury.
Taurean Prince is out tonight against POR with left knee soreness, per the Lakers.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 21, 2024
During the playoffs last season, the Lakers started James, Reaves and Davis in all 16 of their playoff games. Russell started 15 playoff games, and Vanderbilt started 13.
While it’s possible that Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was planning on using this lineup to start the 2023-24 season, he never got the chance early on in the campaign.
Vanderbilt missed the Lakers’ first 20 games with a heel injury, and he’s only made five starts since returning to action.
The team has instead gone with Prince, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, as a mainstay in the starting lineup. Prince has started all 41 games that he’s appeared in this season.
While Vanderbilt doesn’t possess the shooting ability that Prince does from beyond the arc (Prince is shooting 38.7 percent from 3 this season), he does give the Lakers an elite defender that can guard multiple positions.
Since Davis, James, Russell and Reaves are the Lakers’ four leading scorers this season, the team doesn’t necessarily need another player with an offensive-focused game in the starting lineup.
It’s unclear if Ham will roll with this lineup for the long haul, but it appears he will at least use it against Portland. He may go back to a Russell-Reaves-James-Prince-Davis lineup soon.
The Lakers are looking to get back on track after a bad loss at home against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
Los Angeles is battling for positioning in the Western Conference standings, and the team doesn’t want to cough up another home game to a team that is below .500 on the season.
The Lakers and Blazers are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. PST from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday night.