With Lebron James joining the 2018 Los Angeles Lakers, there’s been an abundance of speculation about what the rotations will look like. Obviously before the season starts, that’s a total crap shoot. As the season starts and progresses, the analytics experts will be making the recommendations in conjunction with what King James dictates as well. But after reviewing the NBA experts lineup predictions, we’re putting it in front of you now.
Killer Lineup #1: Royce Young, ESPN: Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma.
It might be tough for the Lakers to go super small, with a heavy ask on Kuzma and Ingram to play big, but the Lakers could have their own version of a death lineup available. There are a lot of combinations to play with, and figuring out how to fill the 5 spot without a center could be challenging. Still, that five could prove explosive with a lot of ballhandling and dynamic playmakers, along with athletic, changing up the defenders.
Jackie MacMullan, ESPN: “I actually like the idea of a Lakers “death lineup” with LeBron at the 5, even though he resisted that in Cleveland. Honestly, as long as Ingram and Kuzma are out there, I’m good with whoever else the Lakers roll out.” But for argument’s sake, she recommends Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is the kind of role-player veteran LeBron likes, and Rondo, who facilitates stars better than any non-shooting point guard.
Killer Lineup #2: Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight: Ball, Josh Hart, Ingram, LeBron and Kuzma.
Luke Walton has talked about playing Kuzma at center, which may occasionally falter. But that five-man group will pack some major offense, with two primary ball handlers who can run and a couple of good jump-shooters. With some solid perimeter defenders, the lineup should hold up fine on that end, too. If need be, LeBron can play center for brief stretches, allowing Kuzma to play his natural power forward spot on defense instead.
Killer Lineup #3: Kevin Pelton, ESPN: Ball, Caldwell-Pope, Ingram, LeBron and JaVale McGee.
With apologies to Rajon Rondo, I think Ball will likely be the better fit alongside two other capable ball handlers, and Josh Hart’s 3-and-D game narrowly loses out to the other wings. As intrigued as I am by LeBron playing the 5, I think it’s likely the Lakers will still be more effective overall with McGee in that spot, meaning no room for Kyle Kuzma in the best five.
Killer Lineup #4: Brian Windhorst, ESPN: LeBron, Kuzma, Ingram, KCP and Rondo.
But there are a few problems. No. 1: There’s no center, which is going to be a problem against quite a few Western Conference teams. No. 2: When games are on the line, not only does LeBron not like to play center but he also prefers playing point guard, which could neutralize Rondo because teams will play off him. This is a long way of saying I think it’s going to be hard to play their best lineup when games matter.