By Jalon Dixon, Columnist
Plagued by offseason drama and complete roster turnover, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for some consistency as we approach the start of the 2019 – 2020 season.
With the Anthony Davis trade cutting the Lakers depth and young talent, they now enter the season with only five returners from last year’s roster. In an offseason filled with mayhem as free agency ran its course, the Lakers struck out on the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, but they were still able to make some key acquisitions that will still make them formidable in the Western Conference.
Although this team was forced to become more veteran heavy with the arrival of forward Lebron James and the expectation of championships for the purple and gold, the Lakers added much needed depth for a team that went into the offseason with numerous open roster spots. Starting at the guard position, bringing back Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provides defensive prowess, facilitating and occasional three-point shooting at both point and shooting guard. Alongside them, they now have Avery Bradley and Quin Cook, who both provide championship experience as well as significant contribution both offensively and defensively. Within this four-guard rotation, the Lakers can bring out a series of different backcourt lineups that either provides skilled defense, consistent scoring or a balance of the two.
Next is the two big additions at the forward spot. Most who look at the Lakers will only focus on the presence of James and Kyle Kuzma, but the acquisition of Danny Green and Jared Dudley are more crucial than one would think. Although James and Kuzma are formidable, if not elite offensively, they both are lack luster defensively and as shooters from the perimeter. Green and Dudley are both top-end defenders who can guard multiple positions, have high basketball IQs, and can shoot the ball significantly well from behind the three-point line. As career 40% three-point shooters Green and Dudley are ideal “3 & D” wings who are both efficient and versatile. It may not show up in the box score every night, but these two will be significant contributors to the Lakers’ success.
Lastly is the center position. Like the Forward spot, all eyes will focus on the acquisition of Anthony Davis and the loss of Demarcus Cousins to an ACL injury, just due to star power alone. Although these players provide a notable name for fans to cling to, it is their backups who may prove to be more valuable. With the return of JaVale McGee and the recent signing of Dwight Howard, the Lakers now have two capable centers who can provide a spark for the team through rebounding, shot blocking, and overall rim protection. Davis alone is a complete player on both ends of the floor, but the depth at the position provides him with the chance to be even more versatile by transitioning between playing center and power forward. This can make the Lakers deadly on the glass as they can play a relatively big lineup, allowing them to control the paint on both sides of the floor.
Despite this team’s biggest kryptonite being team chemistry, the roster is properly built in a way that maximizes James’ skillset as a facilitator and can compete with anyone in the Western Conference. In year two of the Lebron James experiment I think it is safe to say that the Lakers deserve to be put amongst the top teams in the league. There is only one question left for them: Can they get past the Los Angeles Clippers?