The Los Angeles Lakers are a whole different team this season. An unfortunate series of events plagued LA from the end of last season and well into this past off-season. Guys have left, guys have been added and a nervous calm has set in around the Lakers front. But fear not Laker fans! The Purple and Gold will be back at the top of the basketball world in no time. But for now, let us take a raw look at this current team.
Position:Projected Depth Chart
Point Guard: Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar
Nash is a shell of what he used to be, but it does not mean that he lost his flair. He will be able to carry this team, if one important thing happens: he stays healthy. He has the hands and the vision, but it is the speed that is a concern. For the foreseeable future, his is the gold leader.
Blake has been a good back-up. He will not show up on a list of top-10 point guards in the NBA, but he is a good fit for this system. In terms of age, he is 33, but al least he is still almost a decade young than the guy he is backing up.
Farmar returns to the states with a salary cut and a second chance at proving himself in his home country. He has always had good hands and is quick, which will help in this system. If he keeps focus, he can be the number two guy.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry
Fact: Bryant is injured and will not play for a while. His Achilles tendon did completely detach from his heel, but he is determined. Still, I wish he would focus on recovering properly than proving his doubters wrong, because when he does come back, he will be more dangerous than ever.
Meeks is a shooter. He is also a decent defender. That will be where the majority of his time will go. He puts in the effort, but for the most part, he’ll get time to give others a rest.
Henry is a decent shooter that will only get time if he improves. He is only into his fourth year in the Association, so his youth should aid the up-tempo style the Lakers are to play.
Small Forward: Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Marcus Landry
Young is explosive, athletic and most importantly, young. I like this pick up and it is probably the best one the Lakers made in the off-season. Young has the quickness the system needs and when he is on fire, he is MAS EN FUEGO! Look for him to be one of the top three scorers.
Johnson is another new guy for the Lakers, and one that has minimal offensive productivity. He is young and a good defender, so his strengths should be to focus on stopping the opposition and the Lakers transition game.
Landry has been with ten teams all across the globe since 2009. That will definitely limit his development with teammates and new systems. Not to knock a guy when he does not have proper footing in, well, any league, but this seems like a desperation pick-up by the Lakers.
Power Forward: Pau Gasol, Shawne Williams, Elias Harris, Ryan Kelly
Gasol. I honestly do not know why anyone would want to get rid of 7-footer who is the real possessor of the moves similar to Jagger. Gasol can get into any crevice and is mad on the boards. His pairing with the newest Lakers big man, which we will get into soon, should maximize the frontcourt’s production.
Williams is another guy that has bounced around the NBA. He is 6’9” and has a good mid-range jumper. If he can stay consistent and bring the Lakers what they need, he should be playing a lot of minutes.
Harris is a guy the Lakers picked up undrafted. This is good because he proved himself in the Lakers summer league, capturing 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. If he can get close to those numbers this year, he could be a very valuable back up.
Kelly is a rookie from Duke who averaged 12.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg, which is a plus for the Lakers. If he can translate his discipline and offense to the pros, he could see some good minutes.
Center: Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre
Kaman is back! In LA. He has a big body and has a good basketball IQ who will thrive next to Gasol. If Kaman can take the brunt of the big bodies in the NBA, then that will relieve Gasol to do what he does against less massive figures. Good one, Lakers.
Hill can be a dominant player. He will be able to get in there and tangle it up with some of the league’s big guys, but he is not so much an offensive force. His defense will be a strong point for the Lakers when he plays back-up.
Sacre has the height. He just does not have the talent. Last year he played six minutes per game and averaged just over one point. Look for more of the same.
In regards to the above depth chart, several guys will be playing multiple positions, especially if Head Coach Mike D’Antoni sees the need to go bigger or smaller in some instances. It all depends on how his system works with the players he has. Which leads to…
D’Antoni will again play up-tempo like last year, it just will not be at break-neck speed. The acquisition of so many young guys will help get that going, but it will be hard to tell who exactly will flourish from this. So far, so good in pre-season. Just keep it steady until Kobe returns. #Potential