After weeks of the roster sitting at 13 players, the Los Angeles Lakers finally made the move fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers signed big man Christian Wood to a two-year contract.
Wood is a polarizing figure who is going to have the brightest spotlight of his career on him in Los Angeles. There is no denying Wood’s offensive abilities but there should be legitimate concerns about his defense and whether or not he will buy into a smaller role.
Regardless, the team is obviously buying into Wood despite there being reported concerns from a prominent player about bringing him in. With Wood now in LA, the calculus for the starting lineup and depth chart changes.
Ideal Lakers starting lineup after signing Christian Wood:
- PG: Gabe Vincent
- SG: Austin Reaves
- SF: LeBron James
- PF: Anthony Davis
- C: Christian Wood
Los Angeles should give Wood the chance to start next to Anthony Davis, at least early on in his tenure with the purple and gold. It appeared that the team was ready to start Jaxson Hayes next to Davis as he prefers to play the four. Wood makes much more sense logistically.
Wood can space the floor on offense, which allows Davis to operate more in the post and near the rim on that side of the ball. However, having Wood play the five allows Davis to do less of the dirty work near the rim on the defensive side of the ball in the regular season. Instead, he can play more of a roaming defensive role as he did in the playoffs.
Having Wood in the starting lineup should kick D’Angelo Russell out of the starting lineup, though. Wood and D’Lo sharing the court would be awful for the team defense, whereas Gabe Vincent provides more of a consistent defensive presence while not needing the basketball as much as Russell does.
Will the Lakers actually pull the trigger on benching D’Lo? Probably not. But if the team is going to start Wood, this is probably the ideal way to go about it.
Lakers depth chart after signing Christian Wood:
- 6th: Rui Hachimura
- 7th: D’Angelo Russell
- 8th: Jarred Vanderbilt
- 9th: Taurean Prince
- 10th: Jaxson Hayes
- 11th: Max Christie
- 12th: Cam Reddish
- 13th: Jalen Hood-Schifino
- 14th: Maxwell Lewis
The Lakers have a lot of depth that will help the team withstand the regular season while also allowing the team to experiment. As it stands right now, this seems like the most likely direction the team will go after signing Wood.
In a perfect world, Rui Hachimura would start for the Lakers as he is one of the five best players on the team. But because Davis wants to play the four, there really is no room for Hachimura in the starting five. That being said, Hachimura would likely play crunch time over Wood because of Wood’s defensive liabilities.
Russell will get most of the backcourt minutes off the bench as he can play either the one or the two. Jarred Vanderbilt are two interchangeable wings that can play either the four or five and will help take a lot of pressure off of LeBron in the regular season.
Hayes was in line to start for the Lake Show and he slides all the way down to 10th. He will likely still get similar minutes as the two wings ahead of him. Wood getting 22, Hayes getting 20 and Davis playing six minutes at the five (for crunch time) seems like the most logical way to go about it.
Max Christie should see 15 minutes or so as the only other true backup option in the backcourt alongside Russell. Reddish will likely only see 10-12 minutes a game, but could see an uptick in games that LeBron doesn’t play.
The two rookies likely won’t see the floor much, as they will get most of their playing time on G League assignments like Christie did last season.