Byron Scott may continue to experiment with a Brandon Bass/Ryan Kelly frontcourt

Damian Lillard, Ryan Kelly

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly commits a foul as he tries to block a shot by Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard during a Jan. 5 game in Portland.

(Don Ryan / Associated Press)

Lakers Coach Byron Scott hasn’t committed to starting rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell, taken with the team’s second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

That’s not the only rotation question he’s facing.

On Monday, Scott indicated that he’d like to play nine to 10 players on a regular basis.

The starters will be Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert. If Russell does play with the starting group, look for the Lakers to back him up with rookie Marcelo Huertas. Scorers Lou Williams and Nick Young will back up Clarkson and Bryant.


Scott may not go with centers Tarik Black and Robert Sacre behind Hibbert, choosing instead to go with a frontcourt pairing of Brandon Bass and Ryan Kelly, both of whom have traditionally played power forward.

“I love the way Ryan played the whole preseason,” Scott said after practice on Monday. “I think he had one bad game and that was the second game against Utah.

“Other than that, he was aggressive, made shots, was blocking shots.  He did a lot of good things for us on both ends.”

Scott likes the offensive potential with an undersized Bass at center.


“Brandon’s a bruiser,” Scott said. “He just plays with unbelievable energy and effort, and that’s what we need.”

The big question with the pairing is, can they help the Lakers protect the basket.

“Absolutely,” Scott said, in what proved to be a non-answer. “That is the question.”

Scott isn’t sure that Bass and Kelly will be an effective combination defensively; it’s a dynamic he’ll monitor very closely. 

“Brandon can [defend], and I think Ryan is smart enough defensively to understand that he has to use his length to his advantage,” Scott said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to run out at guys, because with his footspeed, guys can beat him -- but he uses his length extremely well.”

If the Lakers bench unit is made up of Huertas, Williams, Young, Kelly and Bass, that’s a group that should be able to compete offensively with almost any set of reserves in the league.

Defensively, at least on paper, it’s quite suspect.

Rookie forward Anthony Brown could start at small forward if Russell comes off the bench. If so, it’s unclear exactly how Scott would use Russell and Huertas off the bench.


Meanwhile, the Lakers have veteran Metta World Peace and rookie Larry Nance Jr. on the inactive list for the opener.

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

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