The Los Angeles Lakers (6-6) will face the rebuilding Portland Trail Blazers (3-8) on Friday, Nov. 17. The contest will be part of the in-season tournament, where the Purple and Gold currently sit first in the west Group A after winning their opening two games.
Veteran superstar LeBron James will be available for the game. He was a game-time decision. Meanwhile, Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, and rookie guard Jalen Hood-Schifino are all listed as out.
Anthony Davis is listed as probable and should participate in the contest. However, all eyes will be on James as he has once again been exceptional to begin the new season and has carried the Lakers’ offense on multiple occasions.
The Trail Blazers aren’t seen as elite competition this season. They’re developing the young talent at their disposal following their roster reset this summer.
So, if there was ever a game the Lakers could afford to bench their 38-year-old superstar, the in-season tournament contest against the Trail Blazers would be it.
James’ minutes and playing time must be managed if Darvin Ham wants his best player to be fit when the postseason eventually rolls around.
LeBron has played 11 games for the Lakers so far this season, averaging 24.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. He’s shooting 57% from the field and 37.3% from three-point ranger
Recently, Darvin Ham made the decision to move Austin Reaves to the Los Angeles Lakers bench. Cam Reddish was promoted to the starting lineup due to the change. Ham’s team then went on a three-game win streak.
Reaves’ being moved to the bench wasn’t about his performance level. Rather, it was about what he could bring to the second unit, and how it would get the best out of his diverse offensive skillset.
Coming off the bench would allow Reaves to be on-ball more frequently and encourage him to initiate plays in the half-court.
Reddish is better suited to a tertiary role between multiple star talents. So far, the rotation change has worked, and the Lakers look like a well-balanced unit. Once Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent return to the rotation, things will likely change again.
However, it’s clear that Reaves could find himself operating as the Lakers’ sixth man throughout the current season, as Ham is seeing the value in having one of his best players leading the second unit.