In their 28th game of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers will roll out their 13th different starting lineup. At this point, no one is surprised by the ever-changing combinations Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni continues to mix and match.
On Monday, Pau Gasol and Shawne Williams join Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry in the starting lineup expected to face the Phoenix Suns. These five have never started together.
Incredibly, the Lakers have not had a single player who has started every game this season. Gasol held that distinction until he missed Saturday’s loss against the Golden State Warriors with an upper respiratory infection. However, the Spaniard took part in shootaround and is fit to play on Monday.
Excluding Gasol, Meeks leads the other four starters with 20 starts this season. Johnson, who is considered the defensive specialist on the team, is next with 18 starts. Williams has appeared in 25 of the 27 games, but he has only made six starts. Incidentally, Williams' last start was also against the Phoenix Suns.
The decision to sit Jordan Hill is based on match-ups.
Channing Frye, who starts at power forward for the Suns, is a shooter who averages 4.5 three-point attempts per game. Frye fits into the role of “stretch four” that D’Antoni made famous during his time in Phoenix, and Williams is the best player on the Lakers' roster to counter Frye's range.
On Monday, Henry will make his third consecutive start at point guard, but the 22-year-old will be making his fifth overall start of the season. Along with Meeks, Hill, Johnson and Nick Young, Henry has appeared in every Lakers game this season.
On Tuesday, injured point guard Jordan Farmar will undergo his third ultrasound of the month on his torn hamstring. If the 27-year-old is passed fit, the Lakers will likely start their 14th different lineup of the season on Christmas Day. Henry and Williams would probably move back to the bench for the national holiday game against the Miami Heat.
Henry, Meeks, Johnson, Hill and Gasol is probably not the lineup the NBA envisioned when they scheduled the Lakers against the Miami Heat on Christmas Day.
Ultimately, the only consistent aspect of the Lakers’ starting lineups this season is their lack of consistency.