What is the Lakers best crunch time lineup? LeBron-AD-Green-KCP and ???

Prior to the season being paused by COVID-19, the Lakers were finally playing like the title favorites they were expected to be. Frank Vogel ran out basically the same lineup to close games out: Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Danny Green, KCP, and Avery Bradley.

With Bradley out of the equation and Rajon Rondo out with an injury, where will Frank Vogel turn to close out tight games?

Depending on the matchup, and who’s hot the final lineup could change. If the matchup has two effective bigs, Davis could slide to the 4, with Howard joining him in the front court to lock down the paint. But realistically, the Lakers most efficient lineup is Davis at the 5, with 4 very good perimeter defenders and shooters.

Let’s break it down.

Potential Replacement For Avery Bradley

An argument could be made for Kyle Kuzma, despite his lackluster defense. Kuzma was in the final rotation in the tough win against Boston. Maybe that is enough for Vogel to trust him down the stretch. And if his offense is consistent, the argument for Kuzma to be in there is exponentially greater.

If J.R. Smith comes in and is the old J.R., then he could find himself in crunch time. But adding a new guy into the final lineup will be a tough ask considering the shoe period of time to build chemistry and trust.

The same applies to Dion Waiters. When Waiters is right he can be a needed scorer in a lineup. But his defense and lack of chemistry will keep him from being on the floor in crunch time.

In certain matchups I could even see Markieff Morris sneaking his way in, but he would have to be on fire, and have the right matchup to defend.

Depending on the matchup and who’s playing well, any of the guys mentioned will likely rotate through. But Alex Caruso seems to be the guy that will get the first crack at it.

Caruso’s defensive tenacity is very similar to Bradley, which is what the Lakers are looking for late in games. His ball handling and playmaking could also be used as James would be the only playmaker on the floor.

So the first time the Lakers find themselves in a close game I would expect the rotation Vogel sends out to be as such.

Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Danny Green, KCP, and Alex Caruso. Kuzma has the next best chance of making his way into that rotation if he is consistent on both ends.

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