With the Lakers’ regular season around the corner, a few surprising players have become the standouts from training camp. Kendrick Nunn and Damien Jones have emerged as front runners for the starting lineup.
Training camp is the time for coaches to try out starting rotations, find team chemistry and run different plays. Lakers’ first-year head coach Darvin Ham has tried just about every rotation possible with his current roster.
The starting lineup that has seen the most playing time together is LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn and Damien Jones. Starting James and Davis is a very clear choice. But, to see Westbrook, Nunn and Jones get so much play time may come as a bit of a surprise.
Westbrook has always been known as a starter, but after the disappointment of last season, it seemed questionable. The Lakers tried to trade the nine-time All-Star multiple times this offseason. When the team was unable to secure a trade, it seemed like he may just come off of the bench all season. After a week of training camp, Westbrook seems to have proven to Ham that he is still a starter.
After spending the offseason, signing free agents and trading for younger talent, the Lakers have many options when it comes to their other two starters. Nunn and Jones have emerged as the front runners for those two spots.
Coach Ham praised Nunn Friday stating, “He’s been great. Shooting the ball well, making the right reads, degrading…” Nunn is entering his second season with the Lakers. Although he did not play last season, due to a bruised bone in the knee.
Nunn spent the offseason working out and getting ready to contribute to the team. He last played for the Miami Heat during the 2020-21 season. During his time with the Heat, he averaged 15 points and three assists.
Jones joined the Lakers during the 2020-21 season and signed a two-year contract this offseason. He adds size, defense and athleticism to this starting five. Coach Ham adds, “Damien is just a really young, athletic big.” Jones has been battling Thomas Bryant for a starting role. Both big men have athleticism and size working for them, but Jones has emerged as the front runner this training camp.
Coach Ham has made it very clear that while this specific lineup has gotten the most playing time, he has not made his mind up about who will start opening night.
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