The Los Angeles Lakers won the biggest prize of the 2018 NBA offseason when they succeeded in acquiring LeBron James in the recent free agency. Unfortunately, they failed to sign another legitimate NBA superstar who can help James bring the Lakers back to title contention next season. The 2018 NBA free agency also concluded with the Lakers passing on the opportunity to add DeMarcus Cousins and deciding not to re-sign Julius Randle and Brook Lopez.
The Lakers will be heading into training camp with three centers – JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac, and Moritz Wagner – on their roster. However, none of those big men are ready for the starting role. In the last few months, there has been speculation that the Lakers are planning to use LeBron James as their starting center next season. The Lakers are reportedly eyeing to create their own version of the Golden State Warriors’ “Death Lineup.”
Using the strategy that helped the Warriors win multiple NBA titles is not impossible for the Lakers. After serving as Coach Steve Kerr’s assistant from 2014 to 2016, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton definitely knows how to perfectly execute the “Death Lineup.” The first thing that the Lakers need to figure out is who will be joining LeBron James when he plays at the center position.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Lakers’ “best lineup” with LeBron James as their center could feature Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
“Walton’s best lineup with LeBron at the 5 could possibly feature Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Each player from 1 to 5 can play both on ball and off ball and defend multiple positions. At 6-foot-5, KCP would be the shortest player in the lineup. James, even against an opponent using a traditional center, would often still be the largest. Ingram can also initiate the offense, as evidenced by his stints at point guard in the second half of the last season, albeit in a less traditional sense than Ball and Rajon Rondo.”
The projected lineup for the Lakers will work well if Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope show a massive improvement in their three-point shooting and defense. Using their own “Death Lineup” could help the Lakers beat other powerhouse teams in the league, but it remains questionable if it will be effective against the reigning NBA champions. Kerr definitely knows how to counter his own strategy, and Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka has already said that it’s a trap to play the Warriors in their own game. However, most NBA fans will surely want to see the clash of the “Death Lineups” when the Lakers and the Warriors face each other in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season.