The Los Angeles Lakers may soon see a change in leadership.
Actually, that needs to be changed: The Los Angeles Lakers should be getting a new guard.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, D’Angelo Russell is currently the “early favorite” to start at point guard for the Purple and Gold. Russell held this position in 32 of the 33 games he played for the team last season. Gabe Vincent, a rookie, “could earn the spot if he outperforms him in training camp,” though.
We don’t need to wait too long to make our decision, even though the Lakers appear satisfied to let this positional competition play out in training. The call should go to Vincent.
LeBron James appears to fit Vincent better. If you created a picture of the ideal point guard to partner with LeBron James in the Miami Heat’s playoff run to the NBA Finals, you may get something resembling Vincent.
On attαck, Vincent was productive and low-maintenance while also being disruptive on defense. He didn’t control the ball, which is essential for anyone playing behind James, but when it did find him, he hammered open shots (37.8 three-point percentage), took advantage of his scoring opportunities (12.7 points in 30.5 minutes), and set the table well (3.5 assists compared to 1.4 turnovers).
Vincent is a person who can influence victory, to use a phrase from the lexicon of coaches. He’ll bustle on both sides and continually work his way into the openings at the ideal moments. He will wear a variety of caps while working on the floor.
Finding a close fit with James will depend heavily on his capacity to shape-shift. Russell Has Potential to Be a Powerful Sixth Man When Russell has the ball in his hands, he displays amazing skill. Despite his less than stellar burst, he possesses the handles to free himself, the vision to spot open teammates, and the touch to score points at every level.
Even though his defensive flaws are obvious, that is still a very useful player to have; you just may not need him next to James.
According to NBA.com, only one of the 11 most often deployed twosomes for Los Angeles during this past postseason run had a negαtive net rating. In case it wasn’t obvious, the tandem was James and Russell, who had a profitable 381 minutes on the floor together.
The greatest way to use Russell is with an attαck under his command. If Russell stays in the starting lineup, it will be necessary to give him a lot of touches that might otherwise go to James or Anthony Davis in order to maximize his influence. Russell could, though, concentrate only on his on-ball attαcks if he were to sit the game out, which may make them more effective than ever against second-team defenses.
Russell’s limitations might slow down Los Angeles. Russell only ever came off the bench for the Lakers during the previous campaign. They only ever played one elimination game.
In other words, L.A. decided that placing Russell on the backup team would give it the best chance to stay in the game when it was win or go home for the club. Even if the Lakers didn’t see any larger implications in their choice to bench a player who was trapped in a shooting slump, that is still telling.
He can put up significant numbers, but his team may not always be aware of them. He frequently exhibits uncontrollable defensive leakage, and his shot selection can occasionally be a little overly αggressive. According to Basketball-Reference.com, in five of his eight NBA seasons, his team has performed worse with him on the court than without him for every 100 possessions.
When Russell shares the court with James and Davis, his on-ball strengths tend to be less noticeable, making his deficiencies more apparent. While Vincent isn’t the same kind of shot-maker, the Lakers can get around his shortcomings by running things through their stars as long as he’s making shots, guarding, and keeping the ball moving.
The person called upon to run point in L.A.’s most important situations will be Vincent, even though a camp wαr may ultimately determine who begins.