Probable Second Unit
- PG: Dennis Schroder
- SG: Alex Caruso
- SF: Kyle Kuzma
- PF: Montrezl Harrell
- C: Anthony Davis
At first glance, you’ll notice that Anthony Davis is still in at center and Montrezl Harrell’s penciled in at power forward. Frank Vogel, the defensive wizard behind the Lakers’ incredible 2020 defense, is loath to play a non-shot blocker at the center position.
The main principle behind Vogel’s impressive Indiana Pacer squads and last season’s Lakers was that he had a player who could alter shots at the rim on the floor at all times.
We also know that LeBron James will need to rest more in 2021 because of the shortened offseason. It’s reasonable to think that Frank Vogel will give Anthony Davis around 34 minutes per game and Marc Gasol approximately 24 minutes per game, leaving a true shot altering presence in the game almost all the time.
Last season Montrezl Harrell only played as a small-ball center for the Clippers, so the question is: Can Harrell succeed on defense as a power forward?
I think he can, and apparently, Frank Vogel and Rob Pelinka also believe that he can play the 4.
Last season Harrell’s average foot speed was 3.78 MPH throughout 63 contests. That foot speed is eerily similar to James and Davis, two of the Lakers best defenders last season.
- Anthony Davis 2020 average foot speed: 3.73 MPH
- LeBron James 2020 average foot speed: 3.74 MPH
Average foot speed isn’t a perfect indicator of a player’s perimeter defensive ability because it doesn’t take into account side-to-side agility. Smaller power forwards like Danillo Gallinari and Pascal Siakam could give the 240 pound Harrell problems out by the arc, but those types of athletes are few and far between.
Plus, Montrezl would even things against smaller and quicker power forwards by destroying them in the lane on offense.
On the fun side of the ball, Harrell should combine with Dennis Schroder to form one of the most feared pick-and-roll duos in the NBA.
Dennis Schroder is a massive upgrade at the point guard position. He’s an aggressive defender who can genuinely run an offense. The two-man combination of Schroder and Harrell should be effective enough on most nights to allow AD ample time to coast on offense and run amuck on defense.
Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, two of the holdovers from last season, fill out the bench unit. We know that Caruso is a defensive dynamo who can get in the lane and make pretty passes, but he also struggled with his long-distance shot last season.
We still don’t know what Kyle Kuzma will bring to this unit. He could morph into a real two-way terror — a guy who can lock down opposing wings on the perimeter and who can use his fantastic burst to rack up points at the rim.
Kuzma could also come out next year and once again look like a guy whose girlfriend just dumped him. There were too many times last season that he went through the motions on offense, slumped shouldered with a small frown glued across his face because he wasn’t getting enough touches.
The Lakers signed Markieff Morris to a minimum deal, and it could be hard for him to find significant playing time. Talen Horton-Tucker’s facing the same situation as Morris, he’s young and talented, but he too will struggle to find minutes.
Overall, Schroder, Caruso, and Kuzma’s perimeter play, along with Anthony Davis’s fierce shot-blocking ability, should make this the top defensive bench unit in the association.
On offense, the Lakers newly acquired Sixth Man of the Year candidates should dominate opposing second units.