Lakers Sign Waiters, How Will the Bench Step up in the Playoffs?

(Image/Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers’ new signing of Dion Waiters, we look into what his skill-set brings, and what that means for players like Quinn Cook.

Does this spell the end of any potential minutes for Cook? Does this make the Lakers a more potent team? What’s the difference between them? All will be explained momentarily.

Dion Waiters

Waiters vs. Cook

Waiters and Cook are shooters through and through, but what is concerning is the playoffs. Looking at the relatively small sample size as well as what these players have done this year, there isn’t much to say.

Behind the arc that is supposed to be the great equalizer, both players have shot well throughout their careers. Cook at 41.2% and Waiters at 34.8%. Waiters has no rings, Cook has one, and Waiters has played about half the playoff games that Cook has.

In addition, Waiters holds 2 inches over Cook in height, as well as about 30 pounds in weight.

The question here is who do you trust with the ball in their hands come crunch time?

The Bench

This is where players like Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso all come into play. While Rondo has been inconsistent, there is the phenomenon known as “Playoff Rondo”. Who, a few years ago, was able to help Anthony Davis run right over and sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the postseason.

Is that something the Lakers can expect for a whole playoff run? Time will tell.

Alex Caruso has become a fan favorite and holds a +23 rating playing besides LeBron James. That holds a lot of weight. Plus, the savviness and toughness he brings both offensively and defensively does make up for his average of 5 points per game.

But will he be able to up his offensive production and hold it all together when the lights come on and the dial is turned up 100 levels in the playoffs? With this being the first time he will play in the postseason, all that’s available is hope and speculation. However, if this season is anything of an indicator, it is more likely than not going to be the exact same Alex Caruso.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the long name may sound odd off the tongue, but quietly he has been an integral piece of the Lakers’ rotation. His 10 points per game and nearly 40% shooting from behind the arc is essential.

You could make the case that he deserves to start. But it is working at the moment with him coming off the bench, receiving staggered minutes between units. Although his 1 steal per game is measly, he is 9 out of 10 times playing good man defense and more often than not in the right place at the right time.

Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris are the last bench pieces that jump into consideration also. They both do different things but the eye test is most important.

While both are still trying to really get their roles set on solid ground, they definitely do some good things. Morris a 6-foot-9, “3 and D” type of player. Whereas Kuzma is a scorer at heart, with inconsistent defense.

Kuzma is averaging career lows but the defensive effort has been acceptable. Morris can rebound just as good. if not better, than Kuzma and can hit the 3 more consistently.

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(Image/Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Back to Waiters, What Version of Do the Lakers Get?

The Lakers are in need of a competent scorer and a consistent defensive player. Not great but good enough to make people uncomfortable leaving him open and/or exploiting defensively.

Dion Waiters, on paper, checks all the boxes. He’s a guard, can shoot, from within and beyond the 3-point line, and can convert broken players. Some important additions include that he can ball-handle and create for others too. All of this is good, again on paper, but his behaviour of the court has lacked for quite some time now.

Waiters presents a lot of offensive potential should he keep his head in the game. Will the Lakers’ culture prevail and keep him in check? or will the Los Angeles culture have him relapse into bad habits?

While all is yet to be seen, the playoffs are just around the corner. The organisation, as well as Laker Nation, are hoping to receive the lights out walking bucket that Waiters is, with the defensive effort to assist the Lakers bring home championship number 17. Thus, tying the Boston Celtics‘ record in the process.

Cross your fingers, the postseason is almost upon us.

Early Playoff Preview, Round 1: Memphis Grizzlies

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(Image/AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Playoffs are where stars make or break their NBA status. Players turn into basketball royalty in the playoffs.

In 2020, young faces will get the opportunity to cement their star status against this year’s Los Angeles Lakers. But what do the basketball Gods have in store for the youngsters, the first timers, and the veterans who have been so close but so far?

Come June, a chapter will close on another great season, but for now let’s take a premature look ahead into round 1 of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

This is part 1 of a 3-part series looking at potential opponents for the purple and gold in round 1 of the postseason. Up first, the Memphis Grizzlies.

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(Image/Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

Lakers #1 seed vs Memphis Grizzlies #8 seed:

The LeBron James effect: If the playoffs started today, the Lakers would have a firm grasp on the first seed. With LeBron James averaging 25.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 10.6 assists, it’s clear who the team will go to run the offense.

In game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies early on in the season, James had 23 points and 8 assists, in a blowout victory. He looked fresh and ready to take on anyone the league would throw at him.

Even after an opening day defeat against the Los Angeles Clippers, which James looked shocked and rusty against Kawhi Leonard and Co, there was no doubt he was healthy and ready to put on a show for the Laker faithful.

Throughout the season James has got banged up but he’s showed that particularly the Grizzlies have nothing to give him in terms of a defender. LeBron James would dominate, it’s as simple as that.

He’s Anthony Davis!: Not many players in the NBA stand with the best in the world. Yet the only way to explain the talent personified as Anthony Davis is just shaking your head in disbelief.

Need proof? Here’s the numbers for game 1 against the Grizzlies this season: 40 points, 20 rebounds, 2 blocks, +19. Gaudy right? But wait, there’s more!

In every game this season he has had no less than 20 points, and never a negative plus/minus. Now, let’s talk about the Memphis Grizzlies for a second.

The Rookie of the Year: It should be obvious who the Rookie of the Year is. The 20-year-old is averaging over 17 points per game and 7 assists. He’s elusive, he’s graceful, he’s Ja Morant.

This guy ticks all the boxes. He may be young and inexperienced but if an All-Star talent to build around is what you want in a rookie. Morant is certainly that!

His games haven’t been particularly great against the size of the Lakers but in good time he should be more than what Mike Conley ever was in Memphis. But as of today, he is not enough to defeat the 2 wonders of the world the Lakers have.

When James said it is over when Davis went to the free-throw line in the All-Star game, it was sure over. The same can be said for this series. The Lakers should sweep 4-0.

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