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Lakers Rumors: LA Emphasizing 3-Point Shooting, Defense at Starting Wing, Guard Spots

Erin WalshJuly 27, 2022

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers' starting five for the 2022-23 campaign is far from set, and it appears they have a certain style of player they'd like to start at the wing and guard spots, per The Athletic's Jovan Buha.

"The Lakers are looking to start whichever wing/guard can make threes and defend at the point of attack at the highest level on the roster, according to league sources," Buha wrote. "The player that stands out in training camp and the preseason will be the favorite for the job."

The only true givens in L.A.'s starting five are LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It's reasonable to believe Russell Westbrook will start, but that depends on whether he's traded.

It's no surprise that the Purple and Gold are looking for a combination of perimeter shooting and defense. Buha previously reported in June that the Lakers were targeting two-way wings in free agency:

"With free agency less than 48 hours away, the Lakers are focusing on two-way wings, according to league sources. Most of the hypothetical scenarios for their taxpayer midlevel exception have been centered on signing a wing or two who could come in and start next to [LeBron] James and [Anthony] Davis."

L.A. had limited salary-cap space this summer to go out and make some bigger moves to improve its three-point shooting and defense in free agency. Westbrook's $47 million 2022-23 salary is hindering the franchise, hence why it is reportedly trying to move him following an abysmal 2021-22 campaign.

The Lakers went out this summer and signed Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. However, Walker's three-point shooting regressed to 31.4 percent last season. And while Brown has solid three-and-D potential, he has shot just 33.7 percent from deep over his four-year career.

Kendrick Nunn is currently the only player on L.A.'s roster who has shot better than 36 percent over his career, which is not ideal.

The Lakers did improve their three-point shooting and defensive versatility through the 2022 NBA draft by selecting Michigan State's Max Christie, but he's far from seeing playing time at the NBA level.

L.A. had the ninth-worst three-point percentage in the NBA last season at 34.7 percent. It also had the 10th-worst defensive rating in the league at 112.8, per NBA.com.

If the franchise could get out from underneath Westbrook's contract, many of its problems could be solved. However, it's seeming more and more likely that the veteran point guard remains on the roster to open the season.

All of that said, it's no surprise there could be a little competition among the players for the remaining starting positions.

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