The Los Angeles Lakers guard rotation is now overflowing with talent, heaping pressure onto first-time head coach Darvin Ham to get creative with his rotations.
With Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves, Kendrick Nunn, and Lonnie Walker IV all on the roster, managing minutes, and egos, is going to be a job unto itself.
However, according to long-time NBA scribe, Marc Stein, the Lakers will look to combat their overflow of guards by sliding some of them into a small forward role next season, as they look to balance the offensive and defensive talents they have available. As it would seem, Patrick Beverley could be the biggest beneficiary of this decision, as he will surely be the first small forward off the bench for the new-look Lakers.
“With Westbrook poised to remain a Laker when new coach Darvin Ham opens his first training camp as L.A.’s new coach, sources say Beverley is regarded internally by the club as a 3-and-D wing and not as a point guard at this stage of his career. The Lakers, in other words, see Westbrook and Schröder as their point guards as of Sept. 18 … and the likes of Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, and Lonnie Walker IV as 2s and 3s,” Stein wrote in his September 18 newsletter.
Seeing Beverley at the small forward position will be intriguing, as he’s never spent significant time in that position, and at six-foot-one, would be incredibly undersized – which means the Lakers are relying on his bulldog style of defense to help paper over any cracks that form due to his physical limitations.
Nick Wright Expects Beverley to be Traded
Not everybody believes in Patrick Beverley’s potential impact for the Lakers this season, as the outspoken guard is unproven on a championship-caliber team. Sure, Beverley helped set the tone for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, but he was still sent out in the trade package to acquire Rudy Gobert.
Fox Sports analyst Nick Wright is of the belief that Beverley won’t last the season in Los Angeles, and the team will look to use him as an asset to further upgrade their roster when the time is right.
“He says, ‘anywhere I go we make the playoffs.’ Fun fact, he was in Houston, they never made it out of Round 2…He then got hurt, and they make the conference finals for the first time since Hakeem (Olajuwon) was there.
They then traded him, after not making another conference finals for a couple of years, then immediately make the conference finals again. He goes to be Clippers and they’re a tough scrappy team and then they lose Kawhi Leonard, and they make the conference finals. Do you know what Ty Lue’s big adjustment was? He benched Patrick Beverley. And here’s the problem, the lack of self-awareness…October 25th … that’s the day he can be traded,,” Wright said on a recent episode of his What’s Wright? With Nick Wright Podcast.
Considering Beverley has a frosty relationship with Russell Westbrook, and is known to get under the skin of others, due to his outspoken nature on the court, it will be interesting to see if he can both fulfill a role as a small forward and also remain on the Lakers roster for the entire season.
LeBron James Welcomes Schroder Back to Lakers
When news broke that the Lakers had re-acquired Dennis Schroder, eyebrows were certainly raised. After all, Schroder is only one year removed from rejecting an $80 million contract extension from the Lakers and failed to impress on his stops with the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets.
Furthermore, Los Angeles’ guard rotation was already full, so adding another ball-dominant guard with questionable outside shooting didn’t seem like the best idea. Nevertheless, LeBron James appears to be happy with the move, as shortly after Schroder’s signing broke on the internet, LeBron took to Instagram to welcome his former teammate back to the Golden Coast.
Whether Schroder’s return to Los Angeles signals the end of Westbrook’s tenure remains to be seen, but either way, it looks like LeBron is happy to be reunited with Schroder, who has looked exceptional during his time with the German national team this summer.