Lakers rotation will need to adjust to loss of Nick Young
The Lakers were dealt their first significant setback of the 2014-15 season on Friday, when Nick Young was ruled out for approximately eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb.
Through a number of training camp scrimmages, Young served as a primary scorer at small forward on the Lakers’ second unit.
With opening night less than four weeks away, Coach Byron Scott is going to need to figure out a workable rotation without Young.
The Lakers open their preseason schedule on Monday in San Diego against the Denver Nuggets. The team lists the probable starters as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.
Jeremy Lin will presumably back up Nash. Veteran point guard Ronnie Price, who is enjoying a strong training camp, might also crack the rotation at point guard.
Rookie Jordan Clarkson and/or Wayne Ellington are the likely subs for Bryant at shooting guard. Rookie Julius Randle will probably spell Boozer at power forward, while Scott can turn to either Robert Sacre or Ed Davis at backup center.
Davis may also get time at power forward. Jeremy Tyler, trying to make the team, has also played center in scrimmages.
The Lakers are grooming first-year players Jabari Brown, Roscoe Smith and Keith Appling -- though none are expected to make the team. Tyler, who has a non-guaranteed contract, may have a slight shot to stick around, but the Lakers’ final two roster spots will probably go to Price and Ellington.
In addition to Young, both Ryan Kelly (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back and knee) are injured.
When healthy, Henry may be able to serve as the backup to Johnson at small forward.
Bryant is another option at the three, rotating over the course of a game with players like Ellington, Clarkson or even Lin at the two. On Friday, Lin also got some time practicing at small forward -- despite standing just 6 feet 3.
While Randle may eventually show he can play minutes at the three, he’s still learning the NBA game. Scott may stick with him at power forward for some time before experimenting at another position.
Rotations tend to extend to 10-12 players through the exhibition season. Over time, Scott is going to need to settle on a rotation of eight to 10.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, that’s not going to include Young and his high-volume scoring.
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