If Byron Scott doesn’t change his initial thought and impressions of the Los Angeles Lakers through training camp, the team’s best point guard, Jeremy Lin, is once again going to find himself playing the role of a backup while Steve Nash, who hasn’t been exactly any good or healthy for quite some time, will remain the starter.
It’s been an interesting debate for quite some time regarding how Scott envisions this patched up Lakers squad. Kobe Bryant, the man, the talent and the ego coming off an injury that could have forced him to retire; Steve Nash, who almost retired from back pains last season; Julius Randle, a rookie power forward who is quite ready to put up points now; Nick Young, a classic sixth man who might be the only one who’ll be playing in the right role; Carlos Boozer, a veteran power forward trying to show the world he isn’t what he looked like on the Chicago Bulls; Jordan Hill, an energetic big man who can’t score; and Jeremy Lin, among a few others.
Scott is thinking about going with the veterans in the lineup. Nash at point guard, despite playing just 15 games last season and 65 over the last two years. Kobe Bryant at shooting guard. There’s no argument over that one, and it doesn’t only have to do with how good Bryant is. Boozer will be starting at power forward. Jordan Hill will be the starting center.
Scott might be thinking about having an explosive second unit. Jeremy Lin, who loves fast-paced basketball, at point guard, next to Nick Young who is a soulless shooter and Julius Randle, who just might be the best offensive big man on the team. Robert Sacre as the backup center. At small forward? Wesley Johnson will likely be the starter because he can actually play some defense. Xavier Henry will probably be the shooting guard in the second lineup.
The good thing? Starting doesn’t mean more minutes. Nash has clearly shown that playing more than 15-20 minutes a game for an entire season will cause his body to break down. We’re going to see off nights for him, and he’ll probably get minutes early in the first quarter and the third quarter. It’s about status, more than anything, and maybe setting a certain tone early in the game, although even that shouldn’t be enough to keep Lin from coming off the bench.
The important thing will be the number of minutes Lin will get, although starting would be a nice recognition in him being the team’s most important player at that position. It’ll be important to see if he finishes games, something that was quite inconsistent when Kevin McHale was his head coach, despite Lin often performing quite well at crunch time with the game on the line.
One thing that doesn’t matter who Scott starts with? No matter what kind of lineup you build, the Lakers aren’t going to be defending very well. For now, at least, the lineup that includes Lin, Young and Randle sounds like a lot of fun, and the one that might be the best for this team offensively.