With hopes of spoiling ring night, the Los Angeles Lakers unfortunately fell short against the Denver Nuggets on Opening Night, 119-107. However, a positive takeaway from this game was the phenomenal performance by Taurean Prince.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, the Lakers’ fifth starting spot was up for grabs. With Jarred Vanderbilt currently dealing with a heel injury, head coach Darvin Ham announced Prince as the starter and the 29-year-old small forward didn’t disappoint.
Prince scored 18 points shooting 6/8 from the field, 4/6 from the three-point line, and grabbed three rebounds in his Lakers debut. After the game, Anthony Davis acknowledged Taurean’s performance and heaped praise on the newest Laker.
"“He’s a floor-spacer. He can guard on the other end. He shot the ball well tonight. When he’s on the floor, teams can’t really help off of him.” “That’s been good to have a guy like that who can give it to you on both ends of the floor and he played really well tonight.”"
Taurean Prince is making a strong case to steal a Lakers starting spot from Jarred Vanderbilt.
While Prince’s defense isn’t on the level of Vanderbilt’s, if he is consistently able to shoot this well from beyond the arc while showcasing effort on the defensive end then his starting spot may be solidified even when Vanderbilt is ready to return.
Prince is used to the role that the Lakers are asking him to play this season. When speaking to reporters after the game, Prince made it very clear that this role is something that he has been doing for a long time in the NBA.
Ham will have some tough decisions to make going forward. Prince is proving he can be the team’s fifth starter with the offensive punch he provides but Vanderbilt is the team’s best perimeter defender. Both players offer two different things while deserving a starting spot in their own way.
It’s possible that we could see the Lakers starting lineup vary depending on their opponent and what the team prioritizes most for that particular matchup. The Lakers will have an opportunity to bounce back on their home floor Thursday, October 26th as the Phoenix Suns are coming to town in what should be a very entertaining game.