The Los Angeles Lakers have three scrimmage games scheduled before June 30.
We learned last week that the Los Angeles Lakers would be welcoming the NBA back as part of a doubleheader on June 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers’ three scrimmage games prior to June 30 were announced on Saturday.
The Lakers are going to play the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards in their preseason games (h/t Harrison Faigen). It is important to note that the Lakers do not play any of these three teams as part of their eight seeding games that kick off on January 30.
These games might not seem like they matter much but there is a value in them that cannot be created otherwise. First of all, this naturally is going to allow the players to get in better shape for the eight seeding games as they will get some of their legs back under them.
It is also important to note, though, that it is almost impossible for the Lakers to even move down in the Western Conference seeding. They would need to go 1-7 or worse for it to even be a possibility. They could theoretically catch the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record but that does not really matter without home-court advantage.
The importance of these games is that it gives Frank Vogel three more looks at how to tweak the rotation for the playoffs because there are going to be tweaks.
The team not only needs to figure out how to potentially implement Markieff Morris, J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters into the playoff rotation, but they are going to have to figure out how the rotation is going to look without Avery Bradley as well.
That is what makes these games valuable. In the seeding games, LeBron James and Anthony Davis need to get a decent amount of playing time simply so they can be ready for a bigger playoff workload.
Of course, the first two rounds of the playoffs will be easier than the last two, so they could even ease into it in the playoffs as well. However, at the end of the day, they are still going to command a decent number of playoff minutes.
The scrimmage games, however, can be all about the rest of the roster. LeBron and AD can be reduced to 20-25 minutes a game just to get them in the feel of things.
This is where the new faces need to play. Without risk of throwing them to the wolves too quickly, Frank Vogel needs to be playing Waiters, Smith and Morris a lot in these three scrimmage games.
Allow them each to play over 20 minutes per game, which is far more than they typically would get, and put them in a myriad of situations. Put them with the subs, with the starters, with just LeBron, with just Anthony Davis, in the crunch time lineup.
There is not a lot of time to figure things out and the Lakers, despite having great team chemistry, actually have quite a few variables that need to be figured out in 11 games before the games really start to matter.
As good as any of the three players can look in practice or in a workout, the Los Angeles Lakers won’t truly know their true value to this team until they take the court.