2. His size
At 6’9”, Lyles is easily one of the bigger players on this undersized Kings squad. Only Domantas Sabonis, Alex Len, and JaVale McGee are bigger.
When Lyles plays the four next to one of those centers, it makes the Kings a little bigger than when Keegan Murray or Harrison Barnes is at the power forward, adding some nice length defensively, which is especially valuable against some of the bigger forwards out there. Lyles is not a defensive mastermind or anything like that, but he can hold his own against forwards and switch on bigs as well.
His real value to the Kings, however, lies in his ability to play the five as well. None of the three centers on the team are three-point shooters. Sabonis hits the occasional outside shot, but opponents don’t consider him a shooting threat, and his defender doesn’t have to stray too far from the basket.
Lyles, however, can hold his own on defense against bigs while stretching the floor offensively and giving Mike Brown a lineup of five shooters, creating the ultimate space for De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, or Keegan Murray to get to the rim.
Yes, they give up some size, but not so much that it hurts them, and playing a small lineup causes a lot of opponents trouble. Just Friday night against the Pacers, Brown elected to play a traditional backup center, leaving both McGee and Len on the bench.
Lyles played the backup five instead. In almost 16 minutes, he scored 13 points on 4-5 shooting from the field and grabbed 3 rebounds. This small lineup doesn’t work against every team but when opponents allow it, it usually works well. Plus, it is always nice to have an alternative strategy in the back pocket.