The Lakers have 55 All-Star appearances for the entire team. Will there be any sense?
This summer, the Los Angeles Lakers experienced another major personnel reshuffle. Nine players left the team, but 12 were added immediately. The main event, of course, was the signing of Russell Westbrook . The Lakers now have their own Big Trio and a whole slew of individual achievements for the entire squad. But that doesn’t mean anything yet.
The off-season changes at the Lakers are as follows.
Out: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Dennis Schroeder, Montrezl Harrell, Markif Morris, Andre Drummond, Ben McLemore and Alphonso McKinney.
Included: Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard, Kent Basemore, Malik Monk, Mack McClang, Chondy Brown, Joel Ayai, Austin Reeves.
Now the entire Lakers have:
5 MVP awards
4 awards for the best defensive player of the season
55 appearances in the All-Star Game
46 hits in the symbolic NBA team
17 hits in the top five defending
4 most productive player of the season
4 titles of the best assistant of the season
5 rebound leader titles per season
5 block shot leader titles per season
55 appearances in the All-Star Game is a powerful achievement. LeBron James (17), Anthony Davis (9), Carmelo Anthony (10) Russell Westbrook (9), Dwight Howard (8), Mark Gasol (2) put their hand to him. This figure could go beyond the 60 mark if the Lakers sign Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas and / or Rajon Rondo for the remaining vacant spots in the application.
With this track record, the Lakers look like a super team. At least on paper. But how they will look in the case and whether there will be at least some sense from this eminent group of performers, we can only guess. Some call the “lakers” one of the main contenders for the trophy, others predict they will be eliminated in the early stage of the playoffs or even a complete failure in the regular season. And such a range of opinions is fully justified. After all, now the team of Frank Vogel has both strengths and frankly weaknesses.
The first and most obvious problem with the current squad is its average age. It will be 31.8 years old this season, making the Lakers the oldest team in the league. Basemore – 32, Howard – 35, Ariz – 36, Anthony – 37. They remain good performers and can claim a permanent place in the rotation of the team. But how long will they last? You can talk as much as you like about how age correlates with experience and how, due to it, veterans can wipe the nose of young people. But the NBA season – at least the regular season – is a real marathon, and running 82 games in six months becomes more and more difficult over time. Who, if not 36-year-old LeBron, who missed almost three dozen games last season, understand this. 10 years ago, such a squad would have intimidated any opponent, but at the moment, all the leading Lakers players (with the exception of Davis) are past the peak of their careers.
From the already middle-aged LeBron, as well as from Anthony Davis with his injuries, the results of the Lakers will continue to largely depend. Only Russell Westbrook can really compensate for their absence on the court. Russell is consistently good in the regular season, fast, athletic, and his individual skill in offense allows him to take on this role. Westbrook will ease the strain on LeBron and Davis, which could help both careers in the long run. In any case, you can believe it. Extravaganza from Anthony and Howard is not to be expected.
Suppose Westbrook really helps unload LeBron and Davis in the regular season so that they can get to the playoffs in optimal condition. Here another problem arises – in the decisive stage, the Lakers will have to rely solely on these three. There is not a single other player on the team who can be relied upon in the postseason with a 100% guarantee. Except that Anthony can shoot from experience in a single match. Of course, James, Davis and Westbrook are superstars who, if they turn out to be successful, can pull the team into the later stages of the playoffs, if not lead to the title. But luck is an unpredictable thing, so the Big Trio needs at least some kind of safety net in any case.
In the playoffs, teams meet with more serious resistance, and much more attention is paid to playing on defense. And in this component, the Lakers lost with the departure of Caruso, Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope. Of those who came, only Ariza and Howard know how to defend themselves, but they will not get significant minutes. The club decided to focus on another problematic aspect – long-range shot. Ellington, Anthony, Basemore, Monk, Nunn – all of them excellent attack from behind the arc. The Lakers were short of snipers, and on paper they got the right players for their Big Trio. But their overall level, with the exception of the delivered throw (which is not the fact that it will be stable), leaves much to be desired.
Los Angeles has ambitious plans. Champion title only. Any other result will be considered a failure. However, it is impossible to say that the club will definitely succeed in fulfilling the goal. There are teams in the league that look no worse than the current Lakers. It’s not just about the Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and a good selection of roleplayers. In their native Western Conference, the Lakers may well be relegated to the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns or Utah Jazz. One way or another, it will be extremely interesting to observe the renewed composition of the “lakesers”. What role is assigned to Westbrook, whether LeBron and Davis will have a “reboot”, whether they will be able to fight for the trophy – we will find out all this already in the next season.