KEY DECISION: Lakers Must Drop This Player from Rotation to Beat Nuggets

   

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans

The Los Angeles Lakers have officially made the NBA Playoffs and have the toughest possible matchup in the first round. Eleven months after being swept in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers will once again take on the Denver Nuggets.

Denver has won eight consecutive games against Los Angeles as the team truly seems to have the Lakers’ number thanks to Nikola Jokic. As a result, the Lakers enter this series as a massive underdog that can firmly establish itself as the top title contender in the West with a series win.

If the Lakers are going to win this series it won’t just take execution at the highest level from the roster, it is going to take good coaching as well. Unfortunately, good coaching is not something the Lakers have been able to fall back on this season.

It does not take a great coach to see the one obvious coaching decision that has to be made in this series, however. If Darvin Ham wants any chance of winning this series (and potentially keeping his job), then there is one simple rotation decision he has to make.

Lakers must cut Spencer Dinwiddie from rotation, give Jaxson Hayes more minutes

The last thing the Lakers can afford right now is another guard who cannot defend. This was the crux of the team’s Western Conference loss last season as Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jamal Murray were able to attack the weak backcourt defense in LA.

The Lakers are a bit better off this year with Gabe Vincent being a defensive presence but there is still room for Ham to mess things up. Ham, who loves playing multiple guard lineups, could turn to Spencer Dinwiddie to fill minutes in the rotation and that would be a mistake.

Dinwiddie has had some okay moments since joining the Lakers but overall, he has been a net negative. His poor defense paired with his usual offensive inefficiencies has been a recipe for unproductive minutes. Sure, he can be a microwave scorer off the bench, but Lakers fans simply have not seen it enough to rely on that.

Any of Dinwiddie’s potential minutes in the rotation should be absorbed by Jaxson Hayes. Hayes is by no means an elite center, but having another big to throw at Jokic is extremely important. Jokic himself has admitted that the toughest matchup he faced in the league was the Lakers when they did this in 2020.

While he is at it, Ham should also turn some of Tauren Prince’s minutes into minutes for Hayes. The Lakers need to play this series a bit unconventionally and add more size. There should not be a single minute of the game where Anthony Davis nor Hayes is out on the court.

And that means someone like Dinwiddie has to see his minutes get slashed by necessity. If the Lakers are going to win this series then don’t expect Dinwiddie to get much playing time.

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