Training camp has just begun for the Los Angeles Lakers and there is currently no commitment regarding who will be the fifth starter for this upcoming season.
Head coach Darvin Ham recently announced D’Angelo Russell as the team’s starting point guard and said he will “tinker” with various lineups over the course of training camp.
The candidates for the fifth Lakers starter:
Day one of training camp featured Jarred Vanderbilt scrimmaging with the starters, according to Jovan Buha of the Athletic. The 24-year-old defensive-minded wing earned himself an extension to remain with the Lakers and has reportedly worked on his shooting, ball handling, and finishing as he’s determined to become an elite two-way player.
Being the team’s best perimeter defender, if Vanderbilt is able to become a respectable three-point shooter it’ll make opposing teams pay more attention to him offensively unlike last season. This will ultimately make the Lakers even more dangerous.
Day two of training camp featured newly acquired wing Taurean Prince being inserted into the starting lineup. Prince is an established role player who has been successful on multiple teams throughout his NBA career. At media day he set a goal essentially guaranteeing greatness of himself stating that “he will 100% shoot 40% from three this upcoming season.”
Prince is a career 37.2% three-point shooter and has shot 40% or higher from three only once which came in the 2020-2021 season. Shooters that come to the Lakers usually tend to regress so while this goal is attainable, it’s also unlikely.
Rui Hachimura is also a candidate to be the fifth starter as he is coming off an impressive postseason run averaging 12.2 ppg while shooting an incredible 55.7% from the field and 48.7% from three. Hachimura gives the Lakers more of an offensive punch than Vanderbilt and Prince and is looking to take another leap heading into this season.
Ultimately this is a good problem for the Lakers to have as they now have more wing depth in comparison to previous seasons. Hachimura, Vanderbilt, and Prince all bring unique skill sets to the team as Hachimura is an offensive threat, Vanderbilt is a defensive-minded wing, and Prince is a 3&D type player.
So who should be the fifth Lakers starter?
When the dust finally settles, Jarred Vanderbilt should be the Lakers’ fifth starter because the combination of Russell, Austin Reaves, LeBron James and Anthony Davis is an offensive-based lineup. Vanderbilt’s defense will be needed chasing guards and wings on the perimeter.
This also allows the second unit to have more scoring with Hachimura and Princes’s capabilities. With the preseason being just a few days away, this situation is definitely something for fans to monitor.