The Golden State Warriors’ unleashed a small ball lineup dubbed the “Death Lineup” on their way to winning championships.
Kyle Kuzma thinks the Lakers could have one, too.
“I think our small ball unit can be really good,” Kuzma said. “I think we can have a death lineup whether that’s [Rajon] Rondo and Lonzo [Ball] on the floor at the same time and me and [Brandon Ingram] and [Le]Bron [James] or substituting guys. I think as we get better defensively and get more continuity, that small ball lineup is going to be huge for us, especially in the playoffs, when everybody’s going to be going small.”
Kuzma says the Lakers haven’t been able to try that lineup in practice yet.
They’ve missed Ingram due to a four-game suspension as well as an ankle sprain that caused him to miss seven games. Rondo has only played in 14 of the Lakers’ 41 games this season. He was suspended for three, missed more than a month with a broken hand and is currently out after having surgery to repair a ligament in his finger that tore on Christmas.
Kuzma also missed two games with a lower back bruise that still bothered him in Monday’s game in Dallas. He said he felt 100% during Wednesday’s shootaround.
Michael Beasley, another potential small ball center for the Lakers, has been away from the team for most of the season so far as he was spending time with his mother, who died on Dec. 23.
The Lakers have only used their smaller lineups when desperate this season. Before signing Tyson Chandler, the Lakers’ options at center were limited, and they often went first to a lineup that included Kuzma as their center.
It wasn’t an especially effective lineup as Kuzma struggled with guarding true centers.
“I think that definitely starts with me. The beginning of the year to now, I’m probably a way different defender than I was,” Kuzma said. “I think that was one of the biggest reasons holding us back from it, from me guarding bigger guys, switching or whatnot.”
He sees the lineup working best, though, with James as their small ball center.