Who Will Be the Lakers’ Backup Playmaker?

(Image/Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With the last stretch of the season to go, the Los Angeles Lakers need a secondary playmaker to emerge from their roster that can be relied on to carry the load when LeBron James is off the floor.  

To be able to analyse who can fill the role it’s important to understand how impressive LeBron James is at creating plays and buckets for the team.

James is within the top 15 players in the NBA when it comes to usage rate, with 30.8%. Hence why he has such a strong presence on the court. With this high usage, he also contributes to a league leading (when looking at players who have played over 5 games) 54.4% of the Lakers’ assists.

The 35-year-old is sitting at the top of the assist leaderboard by a distance, with a sensational 10.7 assists per game. Just to put that into context, All-Star Trae Young is second with 9.3 per game. Not only is James producing a huge number of assists, but he’s doing this whilst maintaining a career-high assist to turnover ratio of 2.65.

Along with these stats and eye test, it’s clear to see that LeBron James is an elite playmaker.

Rajon Rondo, who was tipped to be the secondary playmaker, isn’t at the level he used to be. He can still create assists (averaging 5 per game), however he’s not efficient as he has been in the past and his offensive game has progressively gotten worse.

While on the floor, the Lakers’ offensive rating drops by 8.2, which is a huge amount. Compare this to Alex Caruso, who has a sensational +7.5 when on the court. The purple and gold can’t afford to play Rondo on excessive minutes because the impact is detrimental to the team hence why the playmaking role needs to be assigned to someone like Alex Caruso or even newly acquired guard Dion Waiters

Alex Caruso is a fan favourite in the City of Angels. Caruso has a great all-round game and is especially impactful when on defense. Caruso has an impressive +1.6 in Goldstein’s Defensive Player Impact Plus-Minus score. So when on the court, he isn’t a liability on that end unlike Rondo.

Caruso has already showcased some of his playmaking abilities and is currently averaging 1.8 assists per game whilst producing an efficient 2.3 assists per turnover. His passing isn’t near the level of LeBron James, but it’s at a decent level that the team can take advantage of.

(Image/Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caruso has proven that he can be relied on when carrying some of the playmaking duties whilst playing more minutes. During last year he was averaging 3.1 assists per game, whilst playing only 3 more minutes per game than he is this season. Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel should increase Caruso’s minutes and let him flourish into the secondary playmaker role. 

If the Lakers don’t want to go down the Caruso route then they can slot Dion Waiters into the role of the backup playmaker. This season is a very small sample size when looking at Waiters passing stats; Miami were not using Waiters as a playmaker and so he was only contributing one assist per game. 

Taking a look back at the 2018-19 season, Waiters was averaging 2.8 assists per game with 1.8 assists per turnover. Waiters isn’t as strong or efficient of a passer compared to Caruso but he can still manage within the role.  

What the Lakers decide could be situational because if there is more of a focus on a 3-point shooter then Dion Waiter is a great choice. However, if there is more of a focus on defense then Caruso is the better option. 

Frank Vogel has a good dilemma in his hands as both guards can be competent in the role. There are over 20 games left to go so there’s still time to experiment with both in the role and analyse who’s more beneficial. 

All stats up-to-date as of March 6.

Los Angeles Lakers Roundtable – Part 2

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Welcome back for part 2 of the Lakers Fanclub UK roundtable. Many thanks again to Matt Evans, Kojo Larsen, Frank Gaulden, and Phil Sizemore for their answers in part 1.

In this part, we hear from Jonathan Kiernan (@JonathanKNBA), Srikar Devireddy (@srikardr999), and Jamie Cox (@_TheJMan81).

The Los Angeles Lakers have continued their hot start to the season with another statement win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, 142-125, with Anthony Davis going off for 50 points. 

If the Lakers can keep this level of play up they will be almost impossible to stop come playoff time.

Lets hear from Jonathan, Srikar and Jamie:

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

1. Other than Lebron James and Anthony Davis, who has been the Laker’s most impactful player to start the season? Explain their impact.

Jonathan Kiernan: There have been numerous performers who have given a solid account of themselves so far this season for the purple and gold. Kuzma, Bradley, Caruso, and KCP have been extremely solid and deserve praise for their efforts. However, I am going to go with Dwight Howard.

Howard has shown Lakersnation this year everything they wanted to see in his 1st stint with the purple and gold. He is showing heart, effort on both ends of the floor, blocking shots at an elite rate, setting bone-crushing screens and dunking the ball whenever he gets the chance. He is going about his business and is being a good teammate. While he is no longer the All-Star he once was, he is a valuable piece to the Lakers and will be big in a playoff run.

Srikar Devireddy: “Lebron James and Anthony Davis have been great for the Lakers, securing their place as some of the best players in the league right now. But another player that has been very productive to the Laker’s success has been Danny Green.

His ability to space the floor at all times and hit big-time shots gives him a special gravity on the floor. Green is also being more aggressive by driving to the paint and making effective passes. He is also an efficient defensive player, who is reliable to defend other elite three-point shooters.

Jamie Cox: Apart from the superstar duo, the most impactful player has been Dwight Howard.

I don’t think any Laker fans expected him to be so influential in the majority of games. The way he blocks shots and protects the rim has been on point and his general energy in games has lifted the crowd and his teammates to new levels.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

2. While the Lakers are firing on all cylinders currently, what is a weakness the Lakers have shown so far this season? 

Jonathan: Inconsistency in terms of effort for 4 quarters has been very prevalent this season for the Lakers,.

While they have been able to put most teams away in the 4th quarter, it would be so more efficient for the Lakers to punish teams early on, build up a big lead and rest the likes of LeBron and Anthony Davis late in the 4th allowing them to save their legs instead of forcing them to make clutch plays late and play big minutes in order to get the win.

Coach Vogel and Co. have made adjustments to the squad when needed, hopefully putting lesser teams away early is made a point of emphasis and leads to blowout wins and in turn, allows the Lakers to rest key players in the second half of the season.

Srikar: In many games, the Lakers look nearly unstoppable, however, they are not perfect. A quarter through the season, one of the Lakers’ flaws seems to be their lack of playmaking.

Now, Lebron James is one of the most effective floor generals in the league and the return of Rondo certainly helps, but when the ball is not in one of these two players’ hands, the Lakers tend to turn to a more isolation dependant team on the offensive side.

Although there are many talented iso players on the roster, it is almost always better to move the ball and get more open shots.

Jamie: The biggest weakness so far this season has been the 3 point line – not only shooting from it but also protecting it.

The Lakers have had tough games against teams who shoot the 3 balls well and despite adding plenty of shooters in the summer, the outside shooting could still be a lot better.

While it has improved over the last number of weeks, consistency from the 3-point line will be key. Defending the 3-point line is of great importance, at times not defending the 3-point line can be put down to effort. Exerting more effort on that end of the floor could lead to a significant drop in other teams’ 3-point percentage against the Lakers.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. In a potential buyout market, who would be an ideal player to add to the Lakers? 

Jonathan: The Lakers could be one of the key destinations for players bought out in the buy-out market. With a team built to compete for a championship, it might only take 1 or 2 pieces to push the Lakers to the next level.

Realistically I could see the Lakers getting players like Jae Crowder, Trevor Ariza, Andre Iguodala and at a stretch Goran Dragic. Players of this ilk would give the Lakers real depth in positions of potential weakness. The Lakers must get depth behind LeBron James as to not run him into the ground in the latter parts of the season.

Srikar: There are a lot of potential players to add that could help the Lakers at the moment, two of which include Keneth Faried and Jamal Crawford.

Keneth Faried could serve as a great three and D player who would be able to further space the floor, as well as help, get more rebounds.

Jamal Crawford could also come in and be a similar player to come off the bench and add some playmaking, an area which the Lakers could have some improvement in. Crawford can provide bursts of scoring and control the pace of the game.

Jamie: The number 1 player that has been talked about for the Lakers to pursue in the buy-out market is André Iguodala and with good reason.

His abilities on defense alone would change the Laker’s ability to guard opposing wings. He would be the perfect fit on the perimeter for this Lakers team who sometimes struggles on defense outside of the paint. His basketball IQ is stellar and would be a valuable asset to this Lakers squad.

His Championship pedigree would also be extremely useful in a team full of experience, the “been there done that” factor will be extremely important in the playoffs.

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Lakers
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

4. If you could bring back a former Laker role player and add him to this squad, who would it be and why?

Jonathan: Lamar Odom without a question. Odom was well ahead of his time, his skill set along with his length would be of premier value in 2019.

His ability to be a playmaker, to rebound to score inside and out and his toughness would lend extremely well to this year’s Lakers team.

Having a point forward like Odom would allow for LeBron to get rest throughout the season and with Odom coming off the bench the Lakers would have one of the strongest benches in the entire league.

Srikar: One former role player that would be great to add to the Lakers is none other than Lamar Odom.

He was a pivotable piece of the championship team in 2009 and 2010 and rightly so. Lamar Odom was an incredibly versatile player, excelling at nothing, but being able to do everything at a proficient level.

Odom could serve as a swiss army knife of the team, being able to somewhat play all five positions, providing solid defense and efficient scoring on a nightly basis. Odom could help the Lakers by being a well-rounded player and giving the Lakers constant production.

Jamie: Lou Williams would be the ideal choice of any former Laker player to add to the current squad.

Anthony Davis and Lebron James contribute around 50% of the Laker’s total points so when they are off the floor, a 3rd man must step up to fill that void. Williams is definitely that guy, averaging a little over 21 points this season so far. He would push a talented Lakers bench to the next level.

Whether part of the starting line-up or coming off the bench, Williams would make a huge impact on a team that heavily relies on LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the vast majority of its scoring load.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs
Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

5. Predicting the Lakers record for the rest of the season and why? 

Jonathan: The Laker’s record will be heavily reliant on their ability to stay healthy throughout the season. While there have been minor injuries to the likes of Anthony Davis and Avery Bradley, there have been no season de-railing injuries which have put the season in jeopardy.

If the purple and gold can remain healthy, then it is quite likely they will be the 1st or 2nd seed in the West. The Lakers have the depth to allow the likes of Anthony Davis and LeBron James to take a back seat in the second part of the season, they will still play a key role in games, however, resting them during back to back games could prove very helpful come playoff time. I predict the Lakers finish 60-22 this season.

Srikar: The Lakers are on a roll right now, however, I find it hard to believe that they can retain this level of production for the rest of the season. I believe that once the Lakers reach 40 or so wins, they will begin to load manage LeBron and Anthony Davis more often, playing them fewer minutes throughout the game.

Because of this, I think they will start to win fewer games, ending the season with around 55-60 total wins.

Considering their schedule and projected season-script, I have them ending the regular season with a record of 58-24.

Jamie: The Lakers will face a much tougher schedule from here on in but there is no reason why they cannot have a 60 win season.

Thus far, they are not slipping up against some of the weaker teams like they have done in the past, but it is so tough to keep the high energy up for an 82 game season.

Taking this into account and some load management for the big 2, not to mention injuries, a realistic target should be 55-60 wins before the real tough games start in the postseason playoffs.

Many thanks to Jonathan Kiernan @JonathanKNBA, Srikar Devireddy @srikardr999, and Jamie Cox @_TheJMan81 . Give them a follow on Twitter. Once again thank you to Matt Evans @Mattyyyevans, Phil Sizemore @phsizemore, Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larsen @kwadwo_l and, Frank Gaulden @FrankGaulden

Here at Lakers Fanclub UK, we are proud of the hardworking contributors who lend their talents to the website. Their dedication and love of the Los Angeles Lakers is felt in each and every article and we thank them for their stellar work.

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Los Angeles Lakers Roundtable: Part 1

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The Los Angeles Lakers are off to a red hot start to begin the year. Even the most hardened non-Laker fans must admit that this Lakers team has the chance to be something special.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the charge, the purple and gold look like a powerhouse capable of making a deep playoff run.

Here at Lakers Fanclub UK, we are proud to have a group of dedicated, talented and hard-working contributors who love everything Los Angeles Lakers.

We have all gotten together to give our opinions on some pressing Lakers questions that could be important this season.

This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

dwight howard 2019
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

1. Other than Lebron James and Anthony Davis, who has been the Laker’s most impactful player to start the season?

Matt Evans: “Alex Caruso. He’s the perfect role player for any roster, the Lakers are truly blessed to have him. For a player of his talents and impact to have been picked up undrafted, through the G-League, is a steal.

He does the dirty work, drawing charges, earning the Lakers extra possessions. He is solid on defense too, always locked into his duties, being a nuisance, causing opponent errors. He’s currently 4th on the Lakers in steals per game, with 1.1. And 5th in plus/minus out of the entire roster, which shows his consistency night-in-night-out. Plus, those dunks from time-to-time are fun!

Phil Sizemore: “Dwight Howard. This team has a lot of guys showing their best game right now, but none of them have the game-wide impact Dwight can have. His ability to switch and stay in front of guards – he’s had great stretches this season against fast guards like Devin Booker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – as well as protect the rim and rebound is huge for the defensive game the Lakers want to play.

If he and Davis stay able to keep guards in check 1v1 when called upon, then the Lakers have found a way to avoid the dreaded size/quickness trade-off with their two best bigs. It’s a recipe for a historically good defense. He’s also been active and unselfish on offense, which is the cherry on top.

Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larson: For me the most impactful player on this roster so far this season has been Dwight Howard. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his ability to stay locked in defensively and his energy to always be a team player. His contributions off the bench have been monumental for this team and are a reason why the team has had this level of success so early on this season.

Frank Gaulden: Aside from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the most impactful player for the Lakers to start the season has surprisingly been Dwight Howard. With Anthony Davis insisting on playing the bulk of his minutes at power forward, the Lakers needed a center who could capably play alongside Davis.

Howard has done this by making an already improved defense even better. The combination of he and Davis has led to stifling defense. According to Basketball-Reference, Howard’s offensive rating is 127, meaning that the Lakers score 127 points per 100 possessions with Howard on the floor. At the same time, his defensive rating per 100 possessions is 99. This is an impressive ratio and it is why Laker fans’ attitudes have done such an about-face since his signing late in the summer.

Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

2. While the Lakers are firing on all cylinders currently, what is a weakness the Lakers have shown so far this season? 

Matt: The Lakers haven’t shown too many weaknesses so far this season. Early on it was the ability to defend the 3-point line that looked to be an issue, but that hasn’t been too bad throughout the season so far, despite slips now and then.

A weakness though would be the ability to do work offensively from the 3-point line though. Statistics show that the Lakers don’t focus their game too much on shooting beyond the arc. But at times this season, the Lakers have converted poorly from 3-point land. If they could find some consistency in that category, maybe some of these wins could be more comfortable.

Phil: Ball handling at the guard position. We saw this coming before the season with the roster construction, and the injury to Avery Bradley, who is the only handling guard on the roster aside from Rajon Rondo, has made the problem worse. But being dependent on Rondo for play-making when LeBron James doesn’t have the ball isn’t great no matter how good a distributor Rondo is, because it makes the offense predictable.

Additionally, Rondo likes to command a set offense, which makes him a sub-optimal partner for high-level improvisers like Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. The team could use one more ball-handling guard who can run the pick and roll and find guys like Kuzma on cuts to the basket, but without the ball-dominance that comes with using Rondo as much as they have.

Kojo: As of right now, there isn’t any clear weakness for the Lakers. If you would have asked me 3 weeks ago, I would have said the three-point shooting was a problem, however, as of late, the team is shooting just under 50% from the three-point range.

The Lakers are pretty much solid in all areas of the game and that is why I hold the belief that if this team can stay healthy we are certainly title contenders.”

Frank: The biggest weakness the Lakers face is their lack of credible wing defenders. Notwithstanding LeBron’s defensive resurgence, their lack of wing defense was seen in the games they’ve lost.

The few teams that have bested the Lakers thus far have all had one thing in common: dominant wing play for which the Lakers could not adequately matchup.

The Lakers have lost to the Clippers with Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors with Pascal Siakam, and Dallas with Luka Doncic. With the current crop of wings, aside from LeBron James, consisting of Kyle Kuzma or an out-of-position Danny Green or often mismatched Kyle Kuzma, it is clear the Lakers must tighten up this loose end for their stellar defense to hold
up against wing-heavy competition going forward and in the playoffs.

Adam Pantozzi-NBAE via Getty Images

3. In a potential buyout market, who would be an ideal player to add to the Lakers?

Matt: All eyes appear to be on Andre Iguodala, and that is realistic. He should get bought out from the Memphis Grizzlies eventually if they can’t find a trade suitor. The Lakers need a defensive-minded wing presence at the moment, and Iguodala would fit the bill. Even at 35-years-old, he could be an impact player in multiple facets of the game, defense (as previously mentioned), rebounding, distributing the ball, and shooting.

Another good option would be a wing, Jae Crowder, who is also currently with the Grizzlies.

Phil: Everyone says Andre Iguodala and his usefulness is obvious, but a ball-handling, distributing guard who can also get his own shot seems a more pressing need for this team than perimeter defense.

Reggie Jackson in Detroit is an intriguing prospect in that regard. He’s making a lot of money at the end of his prime and Detroit is an objectively bad basketball team. Detroit should be looking for younger talent to pair with Drummond. Jackson is a free agent after this year, so he doesn’t stand to lose much in a buyout if he wants to play on a contender.

Coming off the bench as a ball-handling scorer who is capable of both getting hot himself and making decent reads on the fly, he could help unlock the Lakers’ offensive tools when LeBron is off the floor or away from the ball.

Kojo: “The Lakers would be in prime position if the Memphis Grizzlies can buyout Andre Igouadala’s contract. Many fans of the purple and gold believe that the team could do with another wing player who’s aggressive on the defensive side of the game.

Numerous NBA experts and analysts believe at this rate the purple and gold are the favorites to make it to the conference finals alongside their cross-city rivals the L.A Clippers. To beat the Clippers, you will have to create defensive matchups to nullify the likes of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Adding Iggy to the mix would go a long way in doing this.

Frank: The obvious choice for the most ideal player the Lakers can add in the buyout market is forward Andre Igoudala.The major problem with this is that Memphis knows he’s an ideal fit for not only the Lakers but also several other NBA contenders such as the Clippers.

Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Memphis does not plan to buy out Igoudala, but will only entertain a trade for him. With Igoudala’s current contract totaling a whopping $17 million in 2019, he is harder to move in a trade than one might think. So it may be that Memphis is merely posturing to see what they can get at this point. Memphis has nothing to lose by holding onto him until the last possible second to see if a team gets desperate.

A player that also plays in Memphis, Jae Crowder, who is also a wing player could fill a similar role to Igoudala, though it’s unknown if Memphis would buy him out either.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. If you could bring back a former Laker role player and add him to this squad, who would it be and why? 

Matt: “It’s a no-brainer, Lou Williams. He is the ultimate scorer off the bench. Kyle Kuzma has been relatively inconsistent in such a role so far this season, but he should find his groove eventually. But Williams would provide the scoring punch needed to pull away from teams in close games and carry the team when LeBron and AD go cold.

It’s just a shame he’s doing just that currently with the Clippers.

Phil: Hands-down, this is Michael Cooper. Cooper was such a hounding defensive presence that he won DPOY from the bench in 1987, which is the sort of need the Lakers are looking to fill eventually with Iguodala.

He had both the size and quickness to defend elite wings like Kawhi Leonard and James Harden and got a sort of manic glee from irritating great offensive players. His overall offensive game wasn’t elite, but it was unusually complete for a role player. He was a capable handler, slasher, and distributor as well as a league-leading outside shooter who also happened to possess the athleticism to play above the rim. Bringing Cooper back would eliminate essentially every weakness this Lakers team still has.

Frank: If the Lakers could go back in time and take a past Laker role player to fit on the current 2019 squad, the player they should obtain is Rick Fox. Since the Lakers need a wing defender, few former Laker role players could fill this void more capably, if any.

Fox played on a Laker team where everyone other than Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had to accept a secondary role. Fox did this capably by being the perfect, gritty, “3 and D” role player the Lakers needed. On the current team where the pecking order is equally as defined with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Rick Fox’s skill set would fit perfectly within the team concept and a position of need.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

5. Predicting the Lakers record for the rest of the season and why? 

Matt: The Lakers could win around 60 games, it could be more, however. When the team has lost this season, they have bounced back in a resilient fashion. But the time will most likely occur where a losing streak kicks in, and that’s where some games could be dropped from the win column.

1st place in the West is the goal, but it isn’t the end of the world if the Lakers slide to the 2nd or 3rd. As long as they maintain that home-court advantage going into the playoffs. All of this is, of course, depends on the health of the roster moving forward, however.

Phil: During the preseason, ESPN predicted the Lakers would win approximately 46.6 games. For perspective, the Lakers would have to end the season 38-32 after their 19-3 start to have as few as 47 wins. They will have a much trickier schedule from December through the yearly long road trip in January, but the end of their season projects to be nearly as soft as the early games were.

The eye-opening performances they turned out on back-to-back nights in Denver and Salt Lake City demonstrated that when this team is healthy and focused on getting a win, it doesn’t matter who they’re playing or where the game is. Barring a significant injury to a superstar, these Lakers are a 60-65 win team.

Kojo: “The Los Angeles Lakers will have a record of either 58-24 or 60 -22. I’m proclaiming this!!! If the teams stay healthy I have no reason not to believe that they will accumulate high amounts of wins in the regular season.

To go into more detail, a 1st or 2nd Seed is where I can see the Lakers finishing this season.

Frank: The Lakers’ current record puts them on pace for 70 wins. However, their most likely record by season’s end will be somewhere from 55-60 wins. As the season goes on, the Lakers are likely to find an increasing amount of games in which to load manage LeBron James and Anthony Davis who has missed very little game time in the first quarter of this season.

The Lakers’ December schedule has been and will continue to be extremely difficult which will likely add some more losses to the Lakers’ record. For instance, three games leading up to Christmas day include the Milwaukee Bucks, the Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Clippers.

An NBA team would be hard-pressed to play a more difficult three-game stretch in an NBA season. After the grind of the regular season, the Lakers would be smart to give Davis and LeBron rest leading into playoffs so they are as fresh as can be when they will be needed most.

Many thanks to Matt Evans @Mattyyyevans, Phil Sizemore @phsizemore, Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larsen @kwadwo_l and, Frank Gaulden @FrankGaulden for participating in the article.

Part Two is coming soon!.

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The Lakers Build a Contender Without Kawhi

(Image/USA Today Sports)

In the early hours of July 6, Kawhi Leonard shocked the NBA world and opted to join the Los Angeles Clippers, over the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Leonard signed a 3-year, $103 million deal with the Lakers’ cross-city rivals. The Clippers paired him with Paul George, of whom they traded for to secure Leonard’s signature.

The Lakers were holding out in the hope that Leonard would lean towards the purple and gold, instead Pelinka and Co. have been forced to take an alternative route, in an attempt to build a championship contender.

Almost instantly after the Kawhi news, we were bombarded with numerous Laker signings. It’s safe to say, so far, the front office deserve praise. They’ve built a deep, talented roster that is more than capable of pushing for championship honours. Whether they get over the line is another thing, but they should certainly be in the mix.

Image result for danny green toronto raptors
(Image/Toronto Raptors/Twitter)

Danny Green

32-year-old Danny Green was the Lakers’ first signing after being dealt the Kawhi Leonard news. Green has signed a 2-year, $30 million deal. He was the premier ‘3 and D’ player left on the market, and it was expected that the Dallas Mavericks would offer a larger, lengthier deal, but the purple and gold secured their man.

The 6-foot-6 guard won the second NBA Championship of his career last season, whilst at the Toronto Raptors. On his way to championship glory, he posted averages of 10.3 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, whilst shooting an incredible .455% from 3-point range. Throughout his career, Green is a .404% shooter from beyond the arc so he does perform at a consistent rate in that category.

Defensively he plays hard too. A solid addition on both ends of the court.

Image result for kentavious caldwell-pope 2019
(Image/USA Today Sports)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be returning to the Lakers on a 2-year, $16 million deal. The shooting guard out of Georgia does split opinion within the Laker community, and rightly so. Some days he can be lights out from a scoring standpoint and really hold his own defensively, then other days he can simply disappear and barely contribute.

It is easy to forget that Caldwell-Pope is still only 26-years old. In the past few seasons for the purple and gold, he has been developing as a player and understanding his role on the team. In his first season, the Lakers signed him to a 1-year, $18 million deal, and now he will be returning at a considerably less, more reasonable, rate.

If he can actively contribute off the bench, he can be a useful piece. Knocking down open 3s and locking in defensively at a consistent rate will result in a successful season from KCP.

Image result for javale mcgee 2019
(Image/USA Today Sports)

JaVale McGee

The 2-time NBA Champion, JaVale McGee, was one of the only bright sparks in an all-but miserable season last time out for the Lakers. He played hard and filled a void at the center position. Suffering pneumonia mid-way through the season slowed him down unfortunately, but overall it really isn’t a surprise to see the 31-year-old return to Los Angeles.

Playing 20+ minutes for the first time since the 2010-11 season, McGee averaged a career-high 12 points per game last season. He offered a strong rebounding game, along with interior defense, where he finished 5th for the most blocked shots in the league.

It may be too much to expect McGee to play considerable minutes in a starting role, but in a sensible center rotation he can definitely be an effective player.

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(Image/Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Quinn Cook

Quinn Cook has quite a remarkable NBA story. From going undrafted in 2015, to learning his trade in the then NBA D-League, before signing a 10-day deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, then earning a spot in the Golden State Warriors‘ rotation, to winning an NBA Championship in 2018.

Last season for the Warriors, Cook featured in 74 regular season games, averaging 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He also featured in 17 playoff games, including the NBA Finals, which will provide further postseason experience to the Lakers’ roster. He has signed a 2-year, $6 million deal.

Throughout his short NBA career so far, Cook has established himself as a solid spot-up shooter. Averaging .418% from 3-point land over 121 games. As a point guard that is just 6-foot-1, he does come with his defensive worries but his offensive game is why he was brought in. After-all, players like Green, Caldwell-Pope, etc, can be moved over to cover his defensive workload.

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

DeMarcus Cousins

For many years DeMarcus Cousins has been linked with the Lakers, as a star player. Well, Cousins now joins the purple and gold on a 1-year, $3.5 million deal. Since suffering an Achilles injury in January 2018 whilst at the New Orleans Pelicans, the 28-year-old has been on the long road to recovery. For the 2018-19 season, he opted to join the Golden State Warriors on a $5.3 million, mid-level exception.

It was expected that Cousins would be out until early 2019, at the very least. Cousins did make his comeback ahead of schedule, featuring in his Warriors debut in January 2019. Through the remainder of the campaign the 6-foot-11 center played 30 regular season games, averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks. In the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs Cousins tore his quadricep, which ruled him out until game 1 of the Finals.

Before injuring his Achilles, DeMarcus Cousins was undoubtedly an elite talent with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 25+ points, 12 rebounds, along with a host of assists, steals, and blocks. He is a low risk, high reward acquisition. The Lakers getting him for less than the Warriors signed him for is a steal. Plus, an Achilles injury is commonly a 2-year injury, of which Cousins is nearing the end of.

With a full off-season under his belt, Cousins should be nearing 80% healthy. Even a partially fit Cousins should be able to contribute 15-20 points and 10 rebounds per game, you would think. Which would be more than enough for this Lakers team, alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Co. If he nears 100% fitness, he could very well be the 3rd star in the team.

Fingers crossed he can stay healthy!

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(Image/Lake Show Life)

Rajon Rondo

Returning alongside Caldwell-Pope and McGee, is Rajon Rondo. The 33-year-old point guard has signed a 2-year, minimum deal with the Lakers. Last season he posted averages of 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1.2 steals.

He endured an up-and-down season last time out, where at times he looked a solid piece within the Lakers roster. Namely in the Christmas Day win at Golden State, and with his buzzer-beater winner at his former home, TD Garden. But for the majority of, he was underwhelming. Defensively he was a liability and he appeared to simply lack effort in the latter part of the season.

Nonetheless, the Lakers have opted to bring Rondo back. The point guard pool in this free agency period was sparse, so he does fill a void. Additionally, a recent report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports suggests that the Lakers have intentions of starting LeBron James at point guard for the upcoming season. As a result, Rondo could feature off the bench under limited minutes.

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Alex Caruso

Much like Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso‘s NBA journey is a feel-good story. After going undrafted in 2016, Caruso hit the then D-League with the Oklahoma City Blue, before securing the Lakers’ first ever 2-way contract, splitting his time between the NBA team and the G-League affiliate team, the South Bay Lakers.

After lighting up the G-League during the 2017-18 season, but failing to impress in the NBA, Caruso was handed another 2-way deal for the 2018-19 campaign. It was in this season where the 6-foot-4 guard impressed. In 25 games he averaged 9.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal, on .455% shooting. From 3-point range, Caruso shot at a blistering .480% rate. On April 5, 2019, he recorded a career-high 32 points in a victory against the Clippers.

In his short time with the Lakers, Caruso has become a fan favourite and rightly so. He plays hard, and is clearly talented. For the upcoming 2019-20 season, Alex Caruso has signed a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. With it comes another opportunity to shine, this time on what is expected to be a winning team.

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(Image/Basketball Insiders)

Avery Bradley

After playing the first part of last season with the Clippers, and the second with the Memphis Grizzlies, Avery Bradley was recently waived and hit the free agent market. Almost instantly, the Lakers snapped Bradley up to a 2-year, $9.7 million deal.

Being highly regarding as a top-level ‘3 and D’ player throughout the majority of his career, Bradley has experienced a decline in recent years. After excelling with the Boston Celtics between 2010-2017, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, where he continued his impressive play. But then injuries hit and he was moved onto the Clippers. This stalled the 28-year-old guard’s progress.

However, in the latter part of last season, with the Grizzlies, Bradley appeared to regain some form. In 14 games, he averaged 16.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2 assists, on .463% shooting (.384% from 3). Even through the last few years where his play has dropped, his defense hasn’t. Through his 11-year career so far, Avery Bradley has built a reputation for being one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. The Lakers were in clear need of a defensive wing, and they have their man. If Bradley can regain his offensive spark, the Lakers may have grabbed a steal.

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(Image/The Athletic)

Troy Daniels

Troy Daniels was the 1st player that the Lakers signed this off-season, as they were waiting on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency decision. The general consensus through the last decade-and-a-half has been to surround LeBron James with shooters. With that, Daniels fits the bill.

The 27-year-old guard is a .400% career 3-point shooter. He will most likely see limited minutes behind a deep, talent Lakers roster, but when called upon, Daniels should do a job. He has signed a 1-year, $2.1 million deal.

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Jared Dudley

33-year-old Jared Dudley was the 2nd player that the Lakers turned towards, whilst waiting for Leonard. Signing a 1-year, $2.6 million deal, Dudley adds a smart, veteran presence to the locker room.

He may not be the flashiest of players, but veterans like Dudley are a pivotal to the success of any NBA team. He will provide a calm head to a team that includes many strong personalities, who could clash from time-to-time.

On the court, Dudley is capable of contributing. In 20 minutes with the Brooklyn Nets last season, he posted averages of 4.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Defensively he is tough, and can certainly hold his own.

The Lakers’ roster so far:

Rajon Rondo (G), Alex Caruso (G), Quinn Cook (G), Danny Green (G), Avery Bradley (G), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G), Troy Daniels (G), Talen Horton-Tucker (G/F), LeBron James (F), Kyle Kuzma (F), Jared Dudley (F), Anthony Davis (F/C), DeMarcus Cousins (C), JaVale McGee (C).

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Alex Caruso, the Man Who Should Be Top of the Lakers’ Retain List

(Image/Getty Images)

Following Alex Caruso’s career-night at the Staples Center against cross-city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers, fans are praying that the Lakers front office choose to retain his talents. Caruso poured in a career-high 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, on 52.6% shooting, including 5 from deep.

Through 23 games this season, Caruso is converting in lights out fashion from three-point land (53.3%). In addition, he has shown an ability to get to the free-throw line, on average 2.5 times a game, converting 81% of the time. Shooting was a clear weakness of Caruso’s last season, however this season he has stepped up in an emphatic manner, in search of a permanent NBA contract.

The 25-year-old sophomore dominated down the stretch against the Clippers, showing exactly what he is capable of when confidence is running through his veins. Such performance, paired with the numerous others since being called up from the G-League, has had many fans pleading with the Lakers’ front office to sign Caruso as a back-up option for the point guard position next season.

Alex Caruso has certainly taken a long path to reach his NBA opportunity. Born in College Station, Texas, Caruso attended his local high school, A&M Consolidated. In his senior year, he averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds, being named to the TABC All-Regional and All-State teams, as well as picking up TABC All-Star and district MVP honours.

Opting to stay in Texas, he then took his talents to the collegiate level, committing to the Texas A&M Aggies. Over his four-year career, the 6-foot-4 point guard averaged 8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2 steals, over 137 games.

The next stage of Caruso’s career was stepping up to the professional level, where he went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft. During the off-season of that year, Caruso joined the Philadelphia 76ers for the NBA Summer League. In September 2016, he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being waived a short time later. In November 2016, he was acquired by the Oklahoma City Blue of the then NBA D-League.

(Image/Texas T&M Athletics)

During the 2016/17 D-League season, Caruso averaged 11.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.1 steals. This earned him a shot with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Summer League, where he impressed and signed for the team on their first two-way contract. He later became the first player to be called up from the D-League to the NBA via a two-way contract.

Caruso made his NBA debut on October 19, 2017 against the Los Angeles Clippers, recording 2 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists, in 12 minutes. He went on to feature a further 36 times (15.2 mpg) for the purple and gold, averaging 3.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2 assists, on the season.

Even though he experienced a rocky start to his NBA career, Caruso flourished in the development league (now the G-League) for the South Bay Lakers during the 2017/18 season. Through 29 games, he averaged 19 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2 steals, per game. The following season, he signed another two-way contract with the Lakers.

(Image/South Bay Lakers Twitter)

The Lakers, now with LeBron James, suffered numerous injuries in the middle of the 2018/19 season. Consequently Caruso was called up to the NBA yet again, although he found his opportunities limited under Luke Walton, until the Lakers found themselves out of the playoff race. With the team shutting down their star players for the remainder of the season, this was Alex Caruso’s chance to shine. Well, he has certainly made the most of his opportunity this time round.

Caruso possesses a team-high +4.8 plus/minus in his last 13 games. This statistic beats LeBron James in such category, and records Caruso as being only one of four players on the Lakers’ roster to hold a positive plus/minus. Additionally, he has broken the 15 point barrier on 6 occasions. With one of those being a 23 point outing in a win against the New Orleans Pelicans, and obviously the 32 point masterclass last time out against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Caruso has shown more than enough upside to be the Lakers’ back-up point guard option next season, behind Lonzo Ball. He would be a cheap, viable option for the team, providing them with the flexibility to strengthen in other positions.

Lakers front office, you know what to do.

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)