The Los Angeles Lakers failed to reach the playoffs last year. They finished with one of the worst records in basketball. However, this does not tell the full story. Kobe Bryant went down with a knee injury early in the season and prized rookie Julius Randle did not even make it out of the summer league before he was forced to sit out the season with an injury. With no marketable trade chips, the Lakers were forced to wait for the draft and the free agent market to rebuild their team. Fortune favored them as they won the number 2 draft pick in the draft lottery.
What They Did:
Graphic via probasketballtalk nbcsports
The Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell, considered by many scouts and general managers to be the best point guard in the draft. Russell has a complete game that should make him an instant contributor on the Lakers and provide a much needed spark to their stagnant offense. However, he tends to be overly aggressive at times. As a result, there will be a maturity process that will be ongoing throughout the season.
The Lakers also acquired center Roy Hibbert in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert is considered to be one of the best defensive centers in basketball and should have a profound effect on burnishing the Lakers’ shaky defense. He has had moments of offensive brilliance before, but they are rare and should not be depended on.
What They Did Not Do:
The Lakers made every effort to sign LaMarcus Aldridge, who was considered to be the best player available on this free agent market. Aldridge is a legitimate star who could have provided the Lakers with veteran leadership and excellent offensive production. However, he was unsatisfied with the Lakers’ pitch and chose to sign with San Antonio instead.
What to Expect Next Year:
The Lakers are an intriguing team to watch next year because of their potential. They have a good set of young players in D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, but these players and Kobe Bryant must stay healthy. Each of these players has excellent offensive skills and they can make the Lakers one of the best offensive teams in the league. If they can stay healthy, the Lakers have a decent chance to net themselves a playoff spot. However, they will probably not be among the Western Conference’s elite teams.
Graphic via clipsnation