Vogel discussed the possibility of Schroder starting on Saturday while speaking to reporters, saying it was too early to make a decision but also heaping praise on the 27-year-old.
“He’s going to be one of our most important players, and a big-minutes player for us,” Vogel said per Mike Trudell. “I love his edge that he plays with, his demeanor. The nasty competitor side of him is something you hate playing against but you love it when he’s on your team. I’m thrilled about it.”
Schroder — who finished runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award last season in Oklahoma City — made it clear in his introductory press conference that he wanted to be in the starting five.
“I did this off-the-bench stuff already in two years with OKC,” Schroder said. “I think I try to move forward, and I think with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron, I can be helpful as a starter in the PG position.”
Schroder said his representation talked with the Lakers before they pulled the trigger on the trade to send former starter Danny Green to the Thunder about starting.
The Lakers started LeBron James last season as a point-forward and he ended up leading the league in assists with a career-high 10.2 per game.
When it comes to Schroder, it might come down to the Lakers needing a primary ball-handler in the second unit. It’d come down to if the Vogel would trust Alex Caruso or Quinn Cook to take over that role, with Rajon Rondo now in Atlanta.
Kyle Kuzma Looking to Grow Off the Bench
One player who moved to the bench last season was Kyle Kuzma, who had started 115 games in his first two seasons. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench, playing 25 minutes per game. That was down from the more than 30 minutes and nearly 19 points per game he averaged during the 2018-19 season, but Kuzma was playing on a championship-level team last season with Davis and James taking up the lion’s share of minutes at the forward position.
Kuzma admitted transitioning to his new role wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but he was embracing learning from two of the NBA’s best in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“I just take it with a progression mindset and mentality of trying to get better every day,” Kuzma told reporters last week. “I focus on what I can control, and my time is coming.
“I just look at Kawhi Leonard, for example,” Kuzma noted during a conference call. “He was a Spur for four or five years — whatever it was — waited his turn behind [Tim] Duncan, [Manu] Ginobli and [Tony] Parker, and then did his thing.”
Kuzma is in line for an extension, but will have come competition for minutes with the Lakers beefing up the roster in the offseason.
Lakers Open Season Against Clippers
The NBA announced that the Lakers and Clippers would be part of opening night on Wednesday, facing off at Staples Center. The Lakers will play four preseason games, two against the Clippers and then a pair against the Suns.
Vogel is unsure if James, who is entering his 18th NBA season, will play in the preseason.
“We’ll see. We don’t want to underdo it where he’s not ready to play in real games. But we obviously don’t want to overdo it.”
The Lakers will have just 71 days between the end of last season and opening night, so easing James in would likely be a good idea.