Frank Vogel has three key questions to answer with the Lakers’ rotation

Frank Vogel
Frank Vogel has a lot to decide with the Lakers' rotation. Photo from USA Today.

The Lakers rotation 2021/22 looks deep, strong, and hard to bet against — at least on paper. The Lakers’ offseason moves led them back at the top of the Western Conference power rankings and for very good reasons.

Rob Pelinka was one of the most aggressive executives in the league as soon as the offseason started. He traded away most of their bench players for Russell Westbrook, let Alex Caruso go, and signed multiple veterans.

The likes of Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and now DeAndre Jordan joined the team. Then again, some people still question whether this team can create enough chemistry — and be healthy enough to win an NBA championship.

The Lakers rotation minutes figure to be a bit of a mystery right now. They have too many ball-handlers, too many shooters, and too many ball-dominant players. That’s the best kind of problem any coach could have in the NBA.

Lakers rotation 2021/22

No team has drawn more contrasting takes than the Lakers thus far. Some say there aren’t enough balls on the court for them to coexist. Some say their egos will make their locker room implode, while others believe that they’re just too old.

On the other hand, others believe that they have just too many talented players not to be considered the clear-cut favorites out of the Western Conference. Whatever is the case, it’s clear that coach Frank Vogel needs to hit the drawing board to figure out the Lakers rotation minutes. Here, we’ll break down the 3 key issues he’ll need to address.

3. Start Melo and play small-ball?

Among all of the Lakers’ offseason moves, Carmelo Anthony lowkey stands out the most. Why? Well, for starters, he’ll finally get the chance to play for an NBA championship and side by side with LeBron James. But the biggest question is: Should the Lakers start Carmelo?


Melo has been coming off the bench for the past couple of years and he’s been fairly efficient. But the truth is that the Lakers don’t have a trustworthy big man on their team right now. This isn’t a shot towards Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan, but their best years are far behind them.

Anthony Davis doesn’t exactly like playing at center but that would be the best for the team. You don’t know how many minutes Jordan and/or Howard can give the team, so putting Melo at the four and sliding Davis to the five could be an option.

2. Deep rotation or roll with the veterans?

The Lakers rotation 2021/22 is as deep as it gets. Every single player on the team — except maybe Joel Ayayi — could contribute to some extent. But not many championship teams were known for playing 12 or 13 guys night in and night out.

Kendrick Nunn should get a lot of run off the bench for them, and so should Trevor Ariza, and Talen Horton-Tucker. Besides them, who’s going to step up for this team when the first unit isn’t on the floor? And more importantly, are they good enough to avoid a meltdown with LeBron, Westbrook, and/or Davis sitting?

Of course, having 3 All-Stars on the team will allow Vogel to stagger their minutes and have at least one of them at the court at all times. But still, maybe it would be for the best to keep a tight rotation or a matchup-based rotation rather than playing a lot of guys every night.

1. How should Vogel manage LeBron’s minutes?

Even though LeBron James is still in top-notch form, no one can escape Father Time. Not even him.

He’s coming off an injury-riddled season and isn’t getting any younger, so it’ll be in the Lakers’ best interest to manage his minutes carefully.

LeBron averaged a career-low 33.4 minutes per game last season, and we wouldn’t expect that number to go up next year.

The biggest perk of trading for Russell Westbrook was having another dominant scorer and playmaker to take some pressure off his shoulders.

James is one of the most durable players of all time and has spoken against load management in the past. Then again, it may not be up to him this time. The Lakers need their best player safe and sound for the playoffs, so expect him to sit out multiple back-to-backs, especially towards the end of the season.

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