Are The Lakers’ Off-Season Upgrades Enough for a Championship?
The Lakers have (somewhat) quietly made some huge additions this off-season, but are they significant enough to bring in the franchise’s 17th championship? Let’s take a look at what’s been done so far, and how it will affect the Lake Show next season.
First, the Lakers drafted guard Darius Johnson-Odom and center Robert Sacre. However, it is unlikely that either will get significant playing time during the upcoming season, so we won’t delve into their potential impacts on this team at this time.
Then, the Lakers pulled off an unlikely, but exponentially beneficial move by bringing in the great Steve Nash at the point guard position. Nash will undoubtedly make everyone who is on the floor with him better, and provide them with easy rhythm shots in their “sweet spots.”
To round out their roster, management signed free-agent forward Antawn Jamison to provide a scoring boost off the bench, and also brought back athletic forward Jordan Hill.
During any other summer, these moves would have likely been the talk of the town–that is, if it weren’t for the Dwight Howard rumors.
Obviously, Howard would fit into the projected new style of play with Steve Nash at the point guard position perfectly. Howard’s athleticism, ability to make quick moves to the basket, and pick-and-roll effectiveness are all qualities that Nash absolutely loves in a big man. However, it is still up in the air as to whether Howard will end up joining the Lakers, so we have to assume the Lakers will begin the season with the current roster for the most part.
So, with these additions, how solid is this team on paper, and how solid can they be?
At the beginning of the off-season, there were three glaring deficiencies for the Lakers:
1. The point guard position
2. Lack of scoring off the bench
3. A solid backup shooter/defender in the back-court
So far, the Lakers have legitimately addressed two of the three; the point guard position and scoring off the bench.
However, as Lakers Nation’s own Elizabeth Benson explains, the Lakers are still in dire need of a capable backup behind Kobe Bryant, who, at 33 years of age and 16 seasons under his belt, averaged the fourth most amount of minutes per game among all NBA players last season.
All in all, the Lakers have made significant upgrades to their roster even though they are not in the form of young, athletic stars as would have been ideal for an already aging roster. With the Lakers being extremely strapped for cash however, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have craftily filled some major holes in their team’s roster–which should not go without credit.
Although the Lakers have made some huge upgrades this off-season, how do they stack up against other championship-contending teams, though?
There are two other top-level teams that have been making significant moves as well in an effort to make a run at the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy: the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The champion Heat have wasted no time in their defense of their second championship in franchise history by adding the likes of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
The Clippers have made even more moves to bolster their lineup as well. So far, they have re-signed veteran guard Chauncey Billups, replaced Mo’ Williams with guard Jamal Crawford, added veteran forward Grant Hill, and added former Laker Lamar Odom to their front line as well. With three of those guys likely coming off the bench, they arguably have the best bench in the NBA, and certainly one of the most versatile second units.
The Oklahoma City Thunder–the team that thwarted the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs–have opted to virtually stand pat by not adding any significant free agents. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing as it is similar to what the Lakers did back in 2008 after losing to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
These are the three teams I see as threats to the Lakers, so let’s break down each match-up.
Next Page: How do the Lakers stack up?
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