LOS ANGELES — Jeremy Lin went from around 15 minutes a game to more than 30 minutes, to a DNP-CD, to almost 30 minutes again — and that was all in the span of two weeks.
Ronnie Price used to be the starter, now he’s the third point guard in the rotation. Nick Young has seen his minutes fall (although there may be good reasons for that). And that list goes on and on.
There is a randomness to the Lakers rotations, a lack of consistency that has left the players — who like a routine and rhythm — searching. And wanting.
After Sunday night’s Lakers loss to the Rockets Lin was asked about dealing with the inconsistent minutes. He just basically shrugged, took a long pause, then said, “I guess you just control what you can control… I mean, the only thing you can get used to is you don’t know what’s coming next. And that’s kinda been true this whole season.”
Lakers coach Byron Scott says before pretty much every game that he’s got his starters but will let the flow of the game dictate his rotations. That is not changing for a while.
“The starting five I have out there now, I’m going to keep that for a while,” Scott said. “I’m going to fluctuate with some of the substations just based on what I see on the court and what they are giving me as well, It could be different each and eery game for the next 15 to 20 games.”
That starting five is rookie Jordan Clarkson at the point, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. Even their minutes are not guaranteed. After that Carlos Boozer was the first guy off the bench Sunday, followed by Lin, Ed Davis and Nick Young.
More than just up and down minutes, the lineups change nightly, with new combinations all the time.
“I feel like, at this point it’s kind of like everybody has probably played with everybody,” Lin said. “So whatever lineup is out there, you have to do your best. You go out there and play. Maybe not worry about the little things, but just go out there and attack, run the plays hard and see what happens.”
To be fair, this is more than Scott’s nature, his hand was forced n some cases. He entered the season with a healthy Kobe Bryant and a team he thought could make the playoffs. But Scott struggled to find rotations that worked and he started to realize this team wasn’t as talented as his opponents most nights. He was searching for answers. Then Kobe’s body needed more rest, adding another level of randomness to the mix — would the guy the Lakers’ run their offense through play or not? Now they unfortunately know the answer to that question.
Pile on some other injuries to the team and Scott has struggled to have guys for the rotations he wants.
That said, he is not the only coach dealing with these issues — go ask Scott Brooks or Flip Saunders about it — yet Scott’s response has been experimentation, which continues halfway through the season. And not knowing if you will play, or how many minutes, or with whom, or in what role, starts to throw players off.
“I think it effects, for me, my rhythm level maybe,” Lin said. “And I think to some degree your confidence level. My confidence level, it’s just you don’t see yourself doing certain things.”
You may want to be careful about having a Lakers’ player on your fantasy roster the rest of the season. Because the randomness will continue.