Coming into the Sunday night tip-off of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Atlanta Hawks there will be the first of many starting lineup changes for the Lakers this year as coach Mike D’Antoni inserts Xavier Henry into the starting forward position over the struggling Nick “Swaggy P” Young.
Henry started the season off with an impressive 22-point, six-rebound performance against the Los Angeles Clippers as the Lakers’ bench put up a ridiculous 76 points that night as a whole but has yet to crack 20 points since. He’s still been playing at a high energy level and offering auxiliary stats to go along with his scoring endearing him with Coach MDA. Nick Young, on the other hand, has yet to score more than 13 points in a game and has been largely disappointing as a Laker so far. Young doesn’t offer much to the team besides his scoring edge, and if he isn’t sinking baskets it is definitely time for him to take a seat.
As Kobe Bryant is just weeks from a return a large part of the minutes at shooting guard will disappear. The fight for minutes at small forward will intensify, and whoever lands the starting role permanently has been nowhere near decided. Although Young and Henry are the lead of the pack in this race Coach MDA will continue to fiddle until he finds something that works. This may involve mixing Wes Johnson or Shawne Williams into the small forward competition as well.
In Los Angeles wins are expected, and Coach MDA will do anything he can to secure this wins and keep his job. The Lakers have lost two games in a row yet won the last seven against the Hawks. They will look to increase that streak to eight Sunday night.