The Los Angeles Lakers have all but completed their roster, and hired their new head coach. This year, the team has changed up their roster mainly, by adding the likes of Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, and Julius Randle in the off-season. Also, the biggest addition is the re-addition of the Lakers star player, Kobe Bryant, after he sat out with injury for most of the 2013-2014 campaign. Here I project the role of every Laker on the team’s roster this for season.
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Role: The Lakers will start Jeremy Lin this year, even though they have a veteran in Steve Nash. Lin has far more skill than Nash, and it makes a lot more sense for the Lakers to go with him.
The team will look for Lin to play well alongside Kobe Bryant in the back court. They will need him to be able and willing to deflect to Bryant, in order to accommodate Bryant’s skill-set, which relies heavily on him making plays with the ball in his hands.
Jeremy Lin will be able to do this. He will play off the ball, looking for cuts, and finding opportunities to shoot from long range. He will also play on the ball, looking for ways to drive within pick and roll sets, as well as find an open man on the perimeter or hit a big man with a pass inside.
Role: This is an obvious one. Kobe will start at the Shooting Guard spot, as he is the team’s figurehead and best player. He is the icon of the Lakers, and one of the best to ever put on the purple and gold.
Kobe will be called upon to make plays with the ball in his hands, whether that be scoring the basketball or setting up other guys, which, contrary to popular belief, he does do.
Role: Wesley Johnson isn’t the most talented Small Forward on the Lakers roster as that title would go to Nick Young, but the title of best defensive Small Forward has to be given to Wesley Johnson.
Byron Scott has made it clear that the Lakers will have to ramp it up defensively. Starting Wesley Johnson over a very sub-par defender in Nick Young will help the Lakers take that step. Plus, Nick Young is better as a sixth man anyhow, especially if he can pick up the minutes that Kobe sits.
Role: The Lakers will start the season off starting Power Forward, Carlos Boozer over Julius Randle. Carlos Boozer will bring a fiery attitude to the Lakers that they will need if they plan on combating what they lost in Pau Gasol.
Boozer is a decent mid range shooter, and will work hard around the rim, and on the offensive glass. He will also make for a nice pick and role mate for Jeremy Lin. Boozer will be worth his weight in effort.
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Role: The Lakers decided to pay Hill 9 million per year this off-season, and he is worth this money when you evaluate what he has done compared to how many minutes he has played.
Hill will see ample playing time for the first time in his career, and it’s time for him to start to translate his per-36 stats, that have impressed many, to an actual game where he plays closer to 36 minutes per game than her ever has in the past. Basically, the Lakers have to hope that the stats do translate in Hill’s case.
Role: Laker nation wanted Swaggy P back, and they got him. He signed a pretty lucrative contract with the Lakers, a four year, 21.5 million dollar deal.
Nick Young will fill in the cracks when Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, and Wesley Johnson head to the bench, and will give them a scoring boost from the bench. Above any other facet of the game, this guy will look to score a lot of points.
Role: Just because I have Carlos Boozer starting does not mean that Julius Randle’s playing time will cease to exist. Boozer is in the later stages of his career, and while he will start, his playing time may not reflect the time that most starting Power Forwards receive.
Julius Randle will see ample time behind Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill, and against bigger line-ups with less athleticism, he could see a good amount of time at Small Forward as well.
*If you watched the summer league, or just watch the above clip, you’ll notice that Randle was playing as a point Power Forward which gives credence to the fact that he can likely play some minutes at Small Forward. His athleticism, ball handling, and face up game will allow him to do so.*
Role: A lot of people will disagree with me when I say that Steve Nash will be somewhat successful this season. But, if I may, allow me to do some persuading:
I think it’s evident that Steve Nash’s role will be diminished, as in he will not seeing starting time, and probably will not even get much time off the bench. Nash will likely come in to replace Jeremy Lin at point guard, and that’s where the bulk of his minutes will come from. Now, here’s where my point comes in.
When most people think of Nash coming into the game, they are expecting to see a Steve Nash at a diminished version of himself, trying so terribly hard to be the player he once was. I don’t think this will be how it will be. Nash will indeed be slotted at Point Guard, but his game will reflect more of what Ray Allen has done in recent years.
With Nash likely playing alongside Kobe Bryant or Nick Young when he comes into the game, he won’t have to do much ball handling. Nash will play off the ball and spot up as a three point shooter to create space. Nash is an excellent three point shooter, therefore, he will be effective in this role.
Role: Ed Davis will pick up minutes where he can find them in the front court. He will probably find most of his time when Julius Randle is replacing Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill heads to the bench with Boozer. He may also receive almost all the time that Hill sits for, if he can prove himself in that role.
Role: Ryan Kelly was more of a stretch four for the Lakers last year, but this year, he will probably find himself playing more of the three and maybe a little time at the four. His playing time will be limited, but when he does enter it will be for his unique size and shooting ability.
Role: Xavier Henry’s role is another one that will be limited. He will likely find his time off the bench when Nick Young is in for Kobe and Wesley Johnson is going to get a rest. The Lakers will probably try to limit the time Kobe and Nick Young are on the floor together, especially with Lin and Nash on the floor, as they are both defensive liabilities. Xavier Henry will pick up minutes behind Wesley Johnson mainly because his defensive ability exceeds that of Nick Young’s.
Role: Robert Sacre will round out the bench, and his only playing time will probably be if any player gets injured. If that injury does happen though, since the Lakers really only have 2 Centers, and 2 Power Forwards (and Ryan Kelly, but he’s more of a stretch four), Sacre could see some decent playing time.
Role: Byron Scott pretty much eluded to the fact that Clarkson will be used primarily as a utility guard. With this being said, the Lakers will be pretty comfortable with a Lin-Kobe-Nash-Swaggy P rotation for their two guard spots. However, if Nash goes down with injury, which no one would be surprised about, Clarkson could see a big boost in playing time.