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LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis, the new big three, have been in and out of the lineup as Frank Vogel and the staff sort out rotations and balance rest before the regular season starts.
The rest allocated to those three stars has opened the doors for other players to get minutes and show how their skills could be optimized with the stars.
These three players have made good impressions so far:
Talen Horton-Tucker is starting to find his niche on the court. He has played all three games and has averaged 12.7 points (second-most behind Dwight Howard), 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 23 minutes per game.
His field-goal percentage of 39.3% isn’t ideal, but he’s shooting 36.4% from the arc on 3.7 attempts per game. The interior finishing will come around, but the ability to knock down shots from deep at that clip will bode well for his minutes.
The Lakers’ front office showed their faith in the 20-year-old guard with the three-year deal they gave him, and he’s gradually showcasing new moves every game.
Look how he attacks downhill on the pick-and-roll and delivers a smooth behind-the-back pass to a rolling Dwight Howard that split two defenders.
Malik Monk is a pure shooter. He made strides last year with the Charlotte Hornets, and so far, he’s proving his improvements weren’t a fluke.
The 23-year-old guard is making 47.1% of his 3s on 5.7 attempts, and his 12.7 points per game mark is tied with Horton-Tucker. He led the Lakers in scoring the first two games but cooled off against the Warriors with fewer touches.
But his skill set is a great complimentary piece to the trio because he’s a capable off-the-bounce scorer who can make an impact on or off the ball, so the Lakers can utilize that in a variety of ways. Getting the start with Westbrook and James against Golden State could be a sign of what’s to come.
Frank Vogel said Chaundee Brown was "making a case" for the second two-way spot on the Lakers. He plays simple but with intent. Grit is not all he has, but it certainly maximizes his chances of carving out an NBA role. First stood out to me at the G League Elite Camp. pic.twitter.com/iyVS2XLTL8
— Wilko (@wilkomcv) October 8, 2021
Chaundee Brown may not be a glamorous name on the roster, but the undrafted rookie vying for a two-way spot has the attention of Vogel and the coaching staff.
He played the first two games, mostly in the fourth quarter, but averaged 9.5 points in 10.9 minutes a game. Brown has made 63.6% of his field goals on 5.5 attempts, and he’s hitting 60% of his 3s on 2.5 attempts. There’s some intriguing off-the-bounce potential he showed against the Suns, too.
The Lakers wanted a 3-and-D wing like James Ennis who could slot in at multiple positions, but Brown could be the younger version of that prototype.