The Lakers will open the 2023-24 preseason in San Francisco on Saturday night against the Warriors.
Here are three things to know before competing:
LeBron and Levis sit down
As the Lakers tried to optimize the preseason load for LeBron James and Austin Reeves, they decided to play both against the Golden State Warriors.
James noted after Thursday’s practice that he will likely play in half of Los Angeles’ six preseason games.
“I think every game will determine that,” he said, which is typical of his daily routine. “I won’t play in the Bay Area on Saturday, that’s for sure, but we’ll see what happens after that.”
As for Reeves, he had a strong individual performance at the FIBA World Cup with Team USA later this summer, and the Lakers want to ensure he has proper recovery time before the start of the regular season. Reeves didn’t practice fully during the first few days of training camp, but Davon Ham put him across the board on Friday, and Reeves clearly responded in an impressive way.
“Austin had a bad day today. I don’t think he missed a shot,” Anthony Davis said, then quipped, “Except for the ones I was in.”
others on list
The rest of the Lakers’ roster is available before the game begins, and all types of lineup combinations are possible. Ham has already stated that D’Angelo Russell will be his starting point guard, and we know AD will be there as well. That leaves three starting spots against the Warriors as LeBron and Levis won’t be filling their typical roles.
Jared Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince and Gabe Vincent all have good reasons to be in the starting lineup, and Max Christie has similar abilities.
The Lakers could also try a bigger lineup, with rookie Jaxon Hayes or Christian Wood sliding next to AD in the frontcourt.
At some point, Davon Ham will reveal his original preferred starting five, but that won’t happen on Saturday.
The Warriors won’t be complete either, as Draymond Green suffered an ankle injury last week and is expected to miss several weeks. This addresses the initial questions many had about the GSW rotation, considering the addition of Chris Paul. Coach Steve Kerr will likely end up starting CP3 with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the frontcourt, and Kevon Looney dominating in the paint.
That leaves a young bench that includes Gary Payton II, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, as well as veteran free agents Corey Joseph, Dario Saric and Russell Dee Guy.
The last time the Lakers were in the Bay Area, they defeated the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, 117-112 at Chase Center. The Golden State Warriors did win Game 2 (127-100) and Game 5 (121-106) before the Lakers defeated Game 6 at home 122-101 to end the series.