Sitting 5-1 on the year so far, the Lakers are off to their best start since the 2010-11 season. Coming off a pair of quality road wins over the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers look to finish off their road trip with another win against the Bulls.
With Avery Bradley ruled out of the game due to a lower leg contusion, the Lakers are forced to make their first adjustment to the starting lineup this season – subbing in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in place of Bradley.
Los Angeles Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup
*Projected Based on Previous Starting Lineups – Will be Updated Upon Official Announcement*
What to Watch For When the Lakers Take on the Bulls
Despite not having Avery Bradley around for the first time this season, the Lakers still look to be a nightmare matchup for the Bulls on paper. Caldwell-Pope should be sufficient stepping in to defend the point of attack and space the floor, though Bradley’s shot has looked much more consistent to start the season. Anthony Davis should be able to take it to Baby Dirk (Lauri Markkanen) and Wendell Carter Jr. (assuming he suits up), indicating the potential for another monster night. While both players are talented, neither are at the level where they should have any business even shutting down an elite NBA big like Davis.
To dive a bit deeper into the Lakers’ frontcourt advantages, Dwight Howard looks to have another juicy matchup against the Bulls’ depth. Featuring Thaddeus Young and Luke Kornet coming off the bench, the Bulls could be in for a long night. Dwight holds significant advantages in size, strength, and athleticism over the two backup bigs and should be able to effectively control the glass and protect the paint when he sees the court.
Danny Green likely draws the crucial defensive assignment tonight and will be tasked with giving Bulls’ star Zach LaVine problems. Green has been excellent so far defensively and if he can at least slow down LaVine, he takes away the Bulls’ only real chance at pulling off the upset. While they also need big nights from their young big men, this Bulls team is currently built to live and die with LaVine.
With Bradley out of the mix and Caldwell-Pope taking the step up into the starting lineup, Alex Caruso, Troy Daniels, and Quinn Cook should each see slightly increased minutes tonight. Caruso has looked excellent defensively to start the year, yet hasn’t been afforded the opportunity to show out offensively like he did last season. Instead, Caruso is being used as more of a combo or off-ball guard. It will be interesting to see if Vogel gives him a bit more leash to attack and create on offense with an expected increase in minutes.