The LA Lakers' biggest concern heading into the 2021-22 NBA season is whether their players would stay healthy for large swathes of the season. Unfortunately, the team has had to deal with injuries to key rotation players and potential starters in the preseason itself.
Trevor Ariza and Talen Horton-Tucker are out for at least two months after undergoing surgeries to recover from an ankle and thumb injury, respectively. Meanwhile, Wayne Ellington is out because of a grade I hamstring injury. It is unclear whether he'll be available at the start of the season.
Malik Monk (groin) and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) are two other players sidelined right now. But coach Frank Vogel is hopeful they will return by the opening night of the 2021-22 regular season on October 19.
Ariza and Ellington are the LA Lakers' projected starters alongside their big three of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, Horton-Tucker is also in contention for a starting spot. However, injuries have forced Vogel and his staff very little time to rethink their rotations, as the season starts in just a week.
On that note, here's a look at three ways in which the LA Lakers could line up with their available players on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season.
#3 LA Lakers start DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore
The LA Lakers could go big by including DeAndre Jordan in their lineup as the starting center. Meanwhile, Kent Bazemore could pair up with Russell Westbrook on the backcourt, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis at 3 and 4, respectively. The lineup would help the Lakers immensely in defense, an area they have massively struggled during the preseason.
Kent Bazemore and DeAndre Jordan have both been excellent in defense so far. Bazemore could take up the responsibility of guarding the best perimeter player, while Jordan offers rim protection. Their inclusion would allow Westbrook, James and Davis to play more freely in offense.
Three-point shooting could be a concern if the LA Lakers use this lineup, though, especially if James, Westbrook and Davis can't find their ranges. Nevertheless, the Lakers could swap Jordan for a shooter, switch James to the power forward position and use Davis at center to resolve that issue during the game.
Point Guard - Russell Westbrook | Shooting Guard - Kent Bazemore | Small Forward - LeBron James | Power Forward - Anthony Davis | Center - DeAndre Jordan.
#2 LA Lakers start Malik Monk
LA Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently said that he is hopeful that Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn would be available by opening night.
Monk, who sustained a groin injury, was spotted moving around during a practice session recently. That's a great sign for the Lakers, as he was their best role player during the preseason before he got sidelined.
Monk made a strong case for being a starter for the team with his impressive performances. He averaged 12.7 points per game, shooting 47% from the three-point line on five attempts per contest.
With Wayne Ellington and Talen Horton-Tucker both out for now, Monk would be a great option to be deployed in the backcourt alongside Russell Westbrook. His shooting and ability to create scoring opportunities could come in handy in offense.
Meanwhile, Kent Bazemore could start at small forward, LeBron James at power forward and Anthony Davis at center.
Point Guard - Russell Westbrook | Shooting Guard - Malik Monk | Small Forward - Kent Bazemore | Power Forward - LeBron James | Center - Anthony Davis.
#1 LA Lakers start Carmelo Anthony
The LA Lakers could look to rely on an experienced lineup to commence their 2021-22 NBA season on a positive note. One way to do that would be to start veteran Carmelo Anthony.
He has started two games for the franchise so far this preseason. Moreover, he was a starter till the 2019-20 campaign. Melo has been in great touch during the preseason. With his ability to score quick points, he could give the Lakers an early advantage in scoring.
The 37-year-old would receive plenty of catch-and-shoot opportunities playing alongside LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. His skill set and experience would be ideal for the Lakers to kick-start their campaign.
If the LA Lakers do start Carmelo Anthony, he will likely play at small forward, with LeBron James at power forward and Anthony Davis at center. Russell Westbrook and Kent Bazemore would then start as the two guards.
Point Guard - Russell Westbrook | Shooting Guard - Kent Bazemore | Small Forward - Carmelo Anthony | Power Forward - LeBron James | Center - Anthony Davis.
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