The 5 Most Intriguing Lineups This NBA Season

3. Los Angeles Lakers | LeBron James, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma

James Holas: Lakers coach Luke Walton knows something about star power. He played with legends Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and cut his coaching teeth in Golden State during the Rise of Curry-Klay-Dray triumvirate.

Walton also knows a thing or two about versatility. He witnessed firsthand how devastating Lamar Odom’s Swiss Army Knife ability was for the opposition, and he had a hand in the evolution of the Warriors’ Death Lineup. As the saying goes, “in the NBA, the wing is the thing”.

A team can never have too many multi-faceted players with size to guard bigs, the quickness to guard on perimeter, and the skill set to make plays.

This season, Walton will get to rev up his own buzz saw when he trots out lineups centered around NBA cyborg LeBron James being flanked by 6-foot-9 forwards Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. In Lebron James, Walton has the most complete player to ever step onto the court, able to score, handle, pass, rebound, and (in spurts) defend in ways that should be impossible for a man his size.

Last season, Brandon Ingram’s all-around game was overlooked by the masses. He was 0.1 assists per game short of joining Nikola Jokic, Steve Francis, Chris Webber, and Larry Bird as the only players 23 or younger to average at least 16 points, four assists, and five rebounds a game while shooting at least 39 percent from three (Ingram just turned 21 earlier this month). Kyle Kuzma showed he could score in bunches on or off ball and has the size, motor, and athleticism to disrupt the other team’s offensive and defensive schemes.

With Bron-Brandon-Kuz at the core, there are some interesting five-man permutations the Lakers can deploy. Playing a team with a “meh” center? LeBron can man the center position. Add 6-foot-6 guards Lonzo Ball and Lance Stephenson (or 6-foot-5 Josh Hart), and watch James rip the defense to pieces from the top of the key or elbow extended. Need more bulk? JaVale McGee at the center spot, 6-foot-9 Mike Beasley at power forward, Bron-Ingram-Kuz (I’m trademarking it now: “B.I.Z.”) on the perimeter.

The defensive potential is there; Ingram has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Kuzma’s is seven feet, and LeBron is one of the best rim protecting wings ever (when engaged, of course). But Ingram and James ranked 51st and 60th (out of 88) in defensive real plus/minus among small forwards, and Kuzma ranked 75th out of 82 power forwards. The trio has to pick it up defensively if LeBron is going to elevate these young Lakers to new heights.

It’s not quite Durant-Dray-Iggy, but is there a better tutor for Ingram and Kuzma than the greatest small forward of all time?