SB Nation

Drew Garrison | October 3, 2014

.

Another season of Lakers basketball is nearly upon us. It's been a dark era of purple and gold basketball, featuring little to cheer about and plenty to question about the franchise going forward. Can Kobe Bryant overcome his aching, breaking, body's limitations? Is Julius Randle the future of the franchise, or will the Lakers' highest draft selection since James Worthy be a dud? Will Steve Nash end the final chapter of his career the way he wants, or will it be another season spent trying to find his way back to the hardwood? How will Jeremy Lin handle the spotlight of Hollywood, and will he permanently exit the shadow of Linsanity? Will Nick Young replicate the swaggy season he put on last year?

Regardless of what may lie ahead, what matters is the Lakers have a fresh slate and 82 games ahead of them. No matter the outcome, we'll all follow along. Lakers basketball is returning, and the masses will follow. It's in our blood.

Inside this preview you'll find an assortment of writing from our talented team here at Silver Screen & Roll. Our editors and writers have worked very hard to prepare for a new season with big expectations for our corner of the internet. Thank you for joining us on the journey here at Silver Screen & Roll, and we look forward to taking the ride with all of you. Enjoy.

- Drew Garrison

Pgs.fw

The Lakers have been floundering at point guard for years. When Derek Fisher is the most stable point guard the team has seen in the last four seasons, there's clearly a problem. Ramon Sessions was a one-week-wonder, Jordan Farmar was seemingly always a stride away from tweaking his hamstring, and acquiring Steve Nash cost the Lakers an even steeper price when the 2015 NBA Draft comes around.

The front office has taken steps to address this sore spot, though. Jeremy Lin represents the franchise's best hope at a consistent point guard in quite some time, and Jordan Clarkson was a measured move by Mitch Kupchak and company to take a shot at a player who was projected by many to be a late first-round selection before he struggled to close out his final collegiate season. And there's always a chance that deep down, the basketball gods will smile down on one of the greatest point guards to ever do it and let him finish the final season of his career as he should: Making magic happen one assist at a time.

Nash.fw

The end is here

Steve Nash's time with the Los Angeles Lakers has been an outright failure, there's no way around it. What looked like a coup for the Lakers at the time now looks like a huge blunder two years down the road, and if the 2015 first-round draft pick Los Angeles traded for him turns into a valuable player, it'll only look worse in retrospect. The Nash experiment comes to a conclusion this season, though, and along will follow one of the great careers in NBA history.

No one is trading for Nash the basketball player this season. The Lakers can no longer use the stretch provision on his contract. The curtains will close on Nash's career with only his health and capabilities left to dictate how his final season as a professional basketball player will play out, and that's the way it should be. Los Angeles isn't a team on the brink of a championship, but a team that would shock the world if they were even in striking distance of the playoffs. The expectations have faded since the infamous Sports Illustrated cover that seems like an eternity ago. How Nash performs is of little consequence to the Lakers' season, leaving one thing left to hope for in his time in Hollywood. Maybe, just maybe, he can pull it together for a season and get back to playing the sport he loves. One last hurrah. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

What to expect

As almost always when dealing with best and worst case scenarios, somewhere in the middle. Given the vibes from Gary Vitti about Nash finally having his health under control, it is not impossible to imagine the Vancouver product playing in around half of the Lakers games, with his shooting providing much needed space for Kobe, Randle, et al. to get shots out of the post. All of this, while being a helpful teacher on the bench, a good cop to Kobe Bryant's bad one in the locker room, and overall helping maintain team chemistry during what will be either a surprising playoff run, or more likely a second straight lottery trip.

What it means: A semi-productive year from Nash such as the scenario posed above could either help the Lakers in the goal of a lower rung playoff seed, or hurt them by making them just good enough to ensure that their pick falls outside of its protections, thus surrendering it to Phoenix in one final harm from the Nash trade as he heads into retirement. - Harrison Faigen

Readmore.fw

Lin.fw

Lin's moment is now

The time is now for Lin to become a force in the NBA.

The time is now for Lin to become a force in the NBA. He'll be operating the offense alongside Kobe Bryant and most likely getting the second or third most shots, depending on how trigger-happy Nick Young is this season. Lin will have the ball in his hands almost every possession he's on the floor, unless Jordan Clarkson can prove something as a second-round pick in his first season, or Steve Nash can return from the dead. In short: Jeremy Lin is going to be a talented player with potential on a really crappy team. If ever there was going to be an opportunity for Lin to run an offense unimpeded by benching (in lieu of Patrick Beverley) or injury (in New York), he might have no better opportunity than right now.

To be fair, not every player "gets it" after three seasons. There are some guards that put together All-Star seasons in their late twenties, with recent cases such as Jameer Nelson and Mo Williams being proof. Neither of those players got as much opportunity earlier in their careers and finally flourished in the right systems. New coach Byron Scott has openly professed his wishes for a faster, up-and-down offense, which may work with the personnel he has. Hopefully he'll lean as heavily on Lin as he did Chris Paul, Jason Kidd and Kyrie Irving in his previous coaching stops. - The Great Mambino

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Lin has had a reasonably clean bill of health through his career, so projecting him to miss significant time isn't appropriate. What will likely happen is he'll be the team's starting point guard once Nash can't handle the minutes due to degenerative health issues, or a serious injury, which will thrust Lin into the starting role. He should be just fine playing next to Kobe Bryant, and should build a pick-and-roll repertoire with Carlos Boozer and Julius Randle. Lin probably won't break through some sort of glass ceiling to become one of the league's top point guards, but he doesn't need to do that to have his season with the Lakers considered a successful one.

Lin's, and the Lakers', situation is a tricky one. On one hand, the Lakers have desperately needed production from the point guard position for years and finally have a player who should deliver. On the other, if he delivers as well as expected, he may be too pricey a commodity as an above-average guard for the Lakers to retain. It's not terrible for the Lakers to use Lin as a rental player, and he should be a positive player on the court. It's unlikely Lin will play so far above his head he helps send the Lakers to the playoffs, but he should make opposing teams respect the one guard wearing purple and gold for the first time in a long time. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

Clarkson.fw

Diamond in the rough

There is a high level of uncertainty surrounding the point guard position, again. Nash and Lin both face varying amounts of pressure in the upcoming season. While Lin will probably bring a certain amount of stability to the position that hasn't been there for the past few seasons, there remains a significant sized hole in the team's second unit.

Nash's ability to have a significant role in the Lakers' rotation remains in question, which potentially leaves Jordan Clarkson in the role of leader of the Lakers' reserve unit. The rookie guard has shown flashes of being the type of player we haven't seen in a Lakers' uniform in years. As showcased during his time with Missouri, and most recently in Summer League, Clarkson immediately jumps out because of the high-energy approach he brings to every possession. As the majority of young back-court talent tend to struggle to find their "comfort level" with their new team, it appears Clarkson won't be sharing those same concerns. Here's a three-minute compilation highlighting Clarkson's offensive talent, which could be a breath of fresh air for the Lakers:

- Dakota Schmidt

Readmore.fw

What to expect

The rookie will likely start the year on the bench, but through flashes of his own potential and the almost inevitable wave of injuries hitting the roster like a Tsunami once again, he could earn the lead off-the-bench point guard role.

Clarkson panning out would be a boon for the franchise, which would also make him the third consecutive second-round draft pick where the front office found a contributor. Going into 2015 and the last year of Kobe's mammoth extension, Clarkson's small price tag would help the organization add pieces around the Mamba for potentially one last run. It's not always about hitting home runs with draft picks, and finding players who could legitimately develop into a starter in the league to keep around on franchise-friendly contracts is very important. - Harrison Faigen

Readmore.fw

Top.fw

Pgs.fw

Surprise! The Lakers strongest position heading into the season is shooting guard. Kobe Bryant is back, and by the looks of things through training camp, he'll be ready to roll on all cylinders once the season is here. Spelling him is Nick Young, who had a very good first year with the Lakers and finds himself a folk hero among Lakers fans.

The scoring load will fall onto these two players in two very different ways. Kobe will be relied on to lead the way as the Lakers franchise superstar. Young will be relied on to make another case for being Sixth Man of the Year, providing the Lakers' bench a much-needed scoring punch from the perimeter.

If you're looking for entertainment from the Lakers this season, this is the duo you'll want to keep your eyes on. On, and off, the court.

Kobe.fw

The Mamba's return

Ultimately, though, it will all come back to Bryant - his league-high $23.5 million salary commands it. And the five-time champion readily welcomes the challenge. A 17th All-Star nomination is merely a consolation for a man driven to win a sixth title, skeptics be damned. "We're going to shock the world," he's reflected, speaking on his journeyman-laden supporting cast.

But before we offer our "Well Actually" rebuttals centered on advanced age, crumbling bodies, and cellar-dweller status, we should join Bryant in greeting another season - the welcoming of a clean slate. Though last season is a measuring stick, it's also, even if temporarily, in the rear-view mirror with one prominent exception: Kobe Bryant is back again.

Let's sweat tomorrow later. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

What to expect

The only inevitability with Kobe Bryant is a top-notch effort.

The only inevitability with Kobe Bryant is a top-notch effort, which is why the Lakers, albeit prematurely, trusted him with $48.5 million over his final two seasons. Last season's abbreviated return was certainly awful in its brevity and content, but everyone trusts Bryant has made good on his extended layoff, eventually granting us a few peeks into years past. His patented fadeaway will be a welcome sight, as will his next thunderous dunk, 30-point game, and, on the whole, healthy campaign. Given our pseudo-business of predicting numbers, a stat line of 22-6-5 wouldn't be surprising.

Making the postseason is a collective challenge for the Lakers, but adding Bryant will be a massive upgrade on the court, especially given the team's other additions and re-signings. They wriggled to 27 wins last season, but adding Bryant, Lin, Randle, and a dose of collective health should hopefully improve the team's record by at least eight games. It will all ultimately fall on Bryant's knees and shoulders, though. Given the team's myriad of issues last season, there couldn't be a better time for his return. Welcome back, Kobe. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

Swaggy.fw

Encore, yes we want more

Fast forward to last April: Swaggy P was THE reason people were still watching the Lakers.

Young was coming off a pedestrian season in Philadelphia, scoring 10.6 points per game on 41% shooting and 35.7% from downtown. He never posted an above average PER and averaged more turnovers than assists as an NBA player. At that point, he was mostly known for being an insanely confident gunner off the bench and one of the pieces that had been shipped out of town to reboot a toxic Washington Wizards culture. Nick Young has always had an NBA body, good athleticism, and the ability to shoot, but he was equally known for ball-stopping and awful shot selection. I was mildly optimistic, but dubious that Young was a "missing piece" for a return to the playoffs.

Fast forward to last April: Swaggy P was THE reason people were still watching the Lakers by the end of the season. He had a career year that addressed his haters and then some. Swaggy P averaged a career high 17.9 points on 43.5% shooting (including 39% from deep) to go along with 1.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds and nearly 1 combined block/steal per game. Despite setting a career-high for usage rate, his increased efficiency also landed Young his first above average PER in the NBA. - The CDP

Readmore.fw

What to expect

I am predicting that Young will be the Lakers third-leading scorer by the end of the year (behind Kobe and Randle), and that he maintains the efficiency levels that he displayed in 2013-14. That'd be a great season from Young for the Lakers, especially after inking him to a four-year, $21.5 million deal.

Young having a productive year would help the Lakers stay an entertaining watch during a tough year, and the joy he brings to the game and locker room helps it not devolve into the chaos which can engulf some lottery teams. - Harrison Faigen

Readmore.fw

Top.fw

Pgs.fw

The Lakers did plenty of roster shuffling this summer, but they neglected one area that still needs improvement: Small forward. Wesley Johnson is back, as is Xavier Henry, but neither player provided the kind of consistent production Los Angeles needs from the wing.

Johnson showed his all-around capabilities in spurts. He's a super-athletic player with all of the right measurables, but he doesn't piece the puzzle together often enough. Xavier Henry had a brilliant season considering he was a veteran's minimum contract away from heading out of the NBA, but injuries left much to be desired from his overall performance. It doesn't help that he's already missing time during training camp because of his health.

Still, these two players have talent, even if it isn't the ceiling these former first-round picks were projected to reach.

Wes.fw

Destroyed and rebuilt

Wesley Johnson will never be a dominant scorer, but he can be an effective one, which is more than most bottom-tier players can say. He shot 62.4 percent in the restricted area, according to NBA.com, and the majority of his shot attempts (28.6 percent) were distributed here. Johnson could cut down on mid-range jumpers, but for the most part, his shooting splits indicate he knows his own limitations. His shooting-efficiency (points per shot) chart does a great job of painting his shooting profile:

Wesley

All that orange around the rim? That's good. The small portion of blue dots in the mid-range? It's bad he shoots so poorly in these areas, but the low-volume is good. The above-the-break fire he put on? Great. This kind of efficiency, along with everything else he brings to the table, makes for a solid player. That's an important distinction to make. This isn't burn-out Michael Beasley. This isn't Evan "Google me because you have no idea where I am at this point of my career" Turner. Wesley Johnson was hoisted from the top of prospect mountain but resurrected himself as a serviceable basketball player.

Consider the fact he's only 27 with 6731 minutes played throughout his career. Consider the fact he was burdened by expectations and chaos with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Consider the fact the Lakers were his third team in as many seasons last year. Many MANY things must go right for a player to reach his ceiling. Some of those things just didn't happen for Wesley Johnson, but he's stuck with it. He's quietly found his place in the NBA, and the Lakers need him about as much as he needs them. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Wesley may not have the same volume of production he did last season, but he should still be a solid player for the Lakers. He's very good at finishing around the rim, plays within himself, and won't tank possessions away with isolation attempts. A year similar to his first with the Lakers is enough to call it a success for both Wesley and the purple and gold, and that's probably where his season is headed.

If he can maintain the play he showed last season it means the Lakers found a minimum-level player they can continue to incorporate in their plans. The Lakers are short on young talent, and Wesley is still just 27. Even if he plays slightly above the career-best bar he set last season, though, it's unlikely to be significant enough of an impact to push the Lakers that far up the standings. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

Xav.fw

Driving up value

When you examine Xavier Henry's overall work on the offensive end, his ability to cut to the paint sits at center stage. Henry is regularly able to work past the opposition by combining his tendency to attack the rim with an excellent amount of athleticism and ball-handling ability. Once Henry gets into the key he's a good finisher at the rim and doesn't shy away from contact. Here's an in-depth compilation of his work on offense:

Henry's drive-first tendency is also valuable because it helps him get to the free-throw line on a regular basis. He averaged a team-high seven free-throw attempts Per 36 minutes, which also exceeded the likes of Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Rudy Gay. While his ability to get to the line is definitely impressive, he struggled making the most of those opportunities, shooting an ugly 65% percent from the not-so-charitable stripe. Henry also shot a pedestrian 37.5 percent from mid-range (8-24 ft. from the rim) and 34 percent from beyond the arc. He spent stretches of the season with nagging issues to his left wrist, which could account for his shooting struggles, but he never proved to be a serious perimeter threat. - Dakota Schmidt

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Henry will miss time, probably earlier in the season. That being said, when he's healthy, his athleticism, ball-handling and nose for the rim will help Kobe Bryant temper his minutes and Nick Young avoid overcompensating as a creator. Henry is similar to Lamar Odom in that he gets in where he fits in, whether it's scoring, passing, rebounding, or defending. Last season, he had 21 double-digit scoring games, nine games with at least five rebounds, and 14 games of at least five free-throw attempts, per Basketball Reference. He's an all-around player who can carve his niche in various ways.

The Lakers will again trot out one of the NBA's best benches. While Lin and Young will rightfully earn the acclaim, Henry will be the glue that helps hold it together. Depending on his health, and ultimately performance, Henry can earn himself long-term trust after returning on a minimum-deal. As a former lottery pick, Henry's talent has never been in question. What the Lakers must see is how often he can put it all together. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

Top.fw

Pfs.fw

The end of one era led to the birth of another in Los Angeles. Pau Gasol has moved on to the Chicago Bulls, and the Lakers have moved on to Julius Randle. It's a bitter sweet moment in Laker Land, as Pau just didn't seem to fit. With him, he took fond memories of a great run of Lakers basketball.

But it's time to move on. The Lakers cashed in their franchise-worst season with the selection of Randle, who will be expected to become a huge part of the team's foundation going forward. They also went out and fell into winning an amnesty bid on Carlos Boozer, and still have 2013 second-round pick Ryan Kelly on the roster.

The Lakers are deep at power forward, but there's still questions regarding each player heading into the season.

Randle.fw

The perfect fit

What the Lakers need from their prized rookie is for him to fit in by standing out.

Considering Kobe Bryant still brandishes the keys to the driver's seat, the Lakers don't need Randle to step in as an All-Star or Rookie of the Year candidate, though they're both respectively welcomed. What the Lakers need from their prized rookie is for him to fit in by standing out, as their rare lottery picks normally do. The Lakers have made four top-ten selections since 1979, and each (Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Eddie Jones, Andrew Bynum) have developed into All-Stars in Los Angeles. Eventually, Randle will continue that trend, especially once the Lakers graduate him from pupil to teacher. Until then, he will do fine as a reserve -- at least until the Carlos Boozer experiment is done -- and he'll further energize a second unit with Lin, Young and Xavier Henry looking to wreak havoc on less-athletic benches. Randle's nose for the ball, and penchant for holding himself accountable, will allow him to almost seamlessly transition into the NBA game, where rebounding will always be at a premium. He averaged 13.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, per Sports-Reference, sandwiched between Cousins (16.8) and Davis (13.0), respectively.

Also fortunate for Randle is the Lakers' middling state -- an antithesis to the annual contenders he grew up idolizing. Beyond him, there are no certified gems for the future. Jordan Clarkson, by all means, could develop into an NBA guard, or he could not. The Lakers could keep their 2015 first-rounder, or they could not. Just about everything regarding the team's present existence is based on a myriad of hypothetical scenarios. Randle, of course, must allow his defense to catch up to his offense, and how he develops as a passer rightfully affects just how far his offense carries him, and, ultimately, the franchise. Talent is what earned the Lakers' trust, and commitment to excellence is what will earn the aforementioned accolades. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

What to expect

It's not likely that Randle will win Rookie of the Year, but he should have a very good season and be in the conversation. It'll be a matter of time until he takes over starting duties from Carlos Boozer, and his game should translate to the NBA right away. He'll definitely hit a few rough patches as he plays against tougher competition than he's ever faced, but he should be able to adjust throughout the year. Randle shouldn't disappoint, proving to be one of the building blocks Mitch Kupchak will plan around going forward.

Randle's rookie year means everything to the Lakers and fans who have been crawling through a desert of despair over the last few seasons. If he can come in and immediately prove himself, as expected, this could start healing a franchise that's been deeply wounded. It's not fair to expect Randle to push the Lakers to some sort of Cinderella run with Kobe Bryant leading the way, but that's no fault of his own. There's a lot of work to be done in Tinseltown, and if he has a successful rookie season, that's the first step toward a brighter future. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

Booze.fw

Swan song

Acknowledging there's a reason Boozer was available on the amnesty market, the Lakers aren't stupid for betting on a Boozer rebound in Los Angeles. He saw a serious decline last year but it's perfectly plausible for him to have a bounce back season. On offense, I would not be surprised to see him find a nice niche on the team and increase his efficiency substantially from last year. Defensively, he'll fit right in on the train wreck that is the '14-15 Lakers.

Carlos Boozer isn't riding into town to save anyone or serve as the missing piece on a championship contender. What he can do, however, is play a valuable role as a crafty veteran and serve as mentor to a Lakers team looking toward the future. Here's hoping we're all pleasantly surprised by what Boozer brings to the table in purple and gold. - The CDP

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Boozer probably will not be thrilled by his eventual demotion to make room for the seventh-overall pick, but also likely realizes that he is auditioning for the other 28 teams in the league (excluding the Lakers and Bulls). Therefore, crowing about his role might make some of those suitors more tepid in their recruitment and eventual offers, and thus he will quietly accept any role he is given.

If all goes according to that script, Boozer doesn't really help or hurt the Lakers. He is going to be a defensive minus, but this team is almost certain to be atrocious on that end anyway. Basically, as long as he does not actively hurt Randle’s development, Carlos Boozer won't really move the needle either way. - Harrison Faigen

Readmore.fw Rkelly.fw

The stretch

The Los Angeles Lakers' only stretch-four threat is found in Duke product Ryan Kelly, whose primary function is spacing the floor for his interior teammates.

Floor-spacing bigs are the NBA's fastest-growing fad. Every year, proven bigs are entering training camp willing and able to nail corner three-pointers, using the 82-game grind to further hone their new-found craft one inevitable clank and swish at a time. Kelly nailed 33.8 percent of his threes last year, shooting at least 50 percent in nine of the 10 games he made multiple bombs.

Eventually -- preferably this season -- Kelly will improve his long-range efficiency, especially as the team adds more talent around him. At Duke he improved his marksmanship every season, graduating from 26.3 percent as a freshman to 42.2 percent as a senior. The Lakers will be happy to reap the benefits of Kelly's development, given his standing as one of the team's few reputable shooters. Nick Young can certainly stretch the floor but he can be bogged down by a score-first mentality. Wesley Johnson is a respectable spot-up shooter but isn't a consistent threat from beyond the arc. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Kelly's role is important but he's the team's fourth frontcourt option at best. That being said, Boozer's skillset is redundant to Randle's, and Hill is ineffective away from the basket. Kelly played 30 minutes on 18 occasions last year, scoring in double-digits 13 times, and recorded two double-doubles. He can play, shoot, and develop in other areas. The Lakers are in transition, and given the nature of today's NBA, developing a relatively skilled stretch should be a priority. If Kelly sees 15-18 minutes of action, he can continue building on last year's flashes.

If Kelly can continue honing his niche and growing into his frame, he'll be a valuable asset going forward. Teams are developing and acquiring stretch bigs everyday, so drafting a second-rounder with relative versatility is a victory in itself. Kelly's purpose is clear -- it's his promise that must become transparent. How the Lakers develop him -- whether as an emergency big or their designated floor-spacer -- will be key to how the offense looks, especially with the Laker bench. Jeremy Lin attacking on pick-and-rolls with Kelly and Swaggy P popping out could give second units fits. Kelly is no future superstar, but he proved last season he belongs in the NBA. Cheers to potential draft gems. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

Top.fw

centers.fw

The Lakers are still reeling from the gaping hole Dwight Howard left at center, and the team will be undersized at the five this season. Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre make up the trio of big men Los Angeles will rely on, which won't intiimdate any opponent.

Hill has been a very productive player for the Lakers, when he's been healthy and in the rotation. His return to Los Angeles was surprising, but the price was definitely right for a player to cash in on. Ed Davis has become a journeyman, last playing with the Grizzlies. He's a great pick-and-roll finisher and might be the best overall defender on the Lakers.

Last is Robert Sacre. And, well, you know the deal with Sacre. Get your dancing shoes ready.

Hill.fw

Full circle

For Hill, it's validation of a five-year climb.

The Lakers won't be world beaters, but they won't have to be -- at least for the season to be a relative success. The '14-15 campaign, as Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant declare, is an opportunity to shock people and contend for a championship, to which no ambitious Lakers fan would oppose.

But as it unravels, it will serve different purposes for different players. For Hill, it's validation of a five-year climb, one equipped with rejection, change of scenery, reward, and expanded opportunity. It's years of hard work coming full circle, though the hustle is far from finished.

This season, Hill doesn't have to become the All-Star his fellow 2009 lottery mates have blossomed into. Players don't draft themselves, and sometimes player-team marriages just aren't meant to be. It's the risk-reward of team building. What matters now, though, is Hill being trusted for who he is, poised for a breakout year for a Lakers team hoping to develop their frontcourt of the future. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Hill has a good motor and 2014-15 won't be any different. As he finds himself in the starting five, he'll have the good fortune of not being something he isn't. That isn't to say he doesn't need improvement, of course. Hill's offense comes and goes, but seeing as he gets buckets via putbacks and dump-offs, the former Arizona star can focus on providing the rebounding, energy, and tenacity that earned him his pay day. Kobe and company will score the points. Hill will be happy to pick up the pieces.

No one will ever, ever, ever confuse Hill with Dwight Howard, but it's refreshing for the team to have a decent option at center, especially as the 27-year old Hill enters his prime. His new deal is only two years, granting him a first year to validate the Lakers' trust, and a second year to prove his long-term value if the Lakers pick up the $9 million team option on him. You know what you're getting from Hill by now, and the Lakers are clearly pleased with his development over the years. The next step is putting it together for 82 games with extended minutes. If Hill continues producing, the Lakers' interior could be set for years to come. - James Lamar

Readmore.fw

Davis.fw

Breakout big man

On the defensive end, Davis' above-average level of mobility has helped push him into becoming a well-rounded defender. When it comes to working against more athletic opponents, Davis has proven capable of sticking close to them, no matter if they're working around the top of the key or cutting to the rim. In those scenarios, Davis can keep his body alongside his opponent to disrupt him at the rim.

Here's a long look at what Davis can bring to the Lakers' defense:

- Dakota Schmidt

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Davis will likely have an average year with the Lakers. He'll probably be thrust into starting center duties because of Hill's injury issues, which could change Davis' trajectory, but projecting what that will mean is tough to do. He played well with added responsibility while Marc Gasol was out last season, notching three double-doubles in the five games he played over 25 minutes. He also scored a season-high 21 points with 12 rebounds in his most minute-heavy game of the season. Davis should be a solid big man off the bench that is a plus on defense and is used sparingly, but efficiently, on offense.

If Davis plays well, it means Mitch Kupchak managed one of the quietest steals of free agency. The Lakers desperately need a center they can rely on, and while Davis is undersized, he can play the five. Davis can also make Hill expendable, giving the Lakers a tradable asset they wouldn't need a replacement for immediately. Options are good, and Davis should prove to be one for head coach Byron Scott, especially if he takes the responsibility of anchoring the Lakers' defense. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

Sacre.fw

The case for fun

The big, exuberant goofball part is likely where the rest of his fans join me on the Sacre bandwagon. Fairly early on in the lost Dwightmare that was the '12-13 Lakers season, many fans of the purple and gold began to notice what appeared to be a drunken, shaven Sasquatch flailing around near the Lakers bench. We soon realized that it was no Bigfoot, but instead the Lakers second round, 60th-overall pick rookie, and that he was celebrating Lakers baskets with enthusiastic dances of a level not seen since the days of the Mad Dog's victory parade:

Mark-madsen-dancing-o

That, to me, is likely the biggest reason for all the Sacre love among fans of the purple and gold, despite the fact he will probably only play 1000 or so minutes more than you or I this season. He epitomizes our ideal teammate: A player who cares and has as much fun as many of the fans of this team. I wish that anything made me as happy as Sacre appears to be when the Lakers score a basket.

Again, don't misunderstand my point. I am not trying to tell anyone how to be a fan, this is just a friendly reminder to take a moment to celebrate the little things, like Randle or Clarkson showing potential, Kobe giving you flashbacks to his prime gone by, and Linsanity fever dream games. Just jump off your couch, barstool, or seat of your choosing and throw up some finger guns, because you know Sacre will be. - Harrison Faigen

Readmore.fw

What to expect

Sacre will likely spend the majority of the season on the bench. Unless Davis and Hill go down with injuries, or grind Scott's will to the ground, they'll both stay ahead of him in the depth chart all season. Expect another quiet season from the Lakers last big.

At the very least it means Sacre will have plenty of time to keep morale up on the sidelines and give fans a place to shoot their eyes to every time the Lakers complete a highlight play. - Drew Garrison

Readmore.fw

Top.fw

About the Author

Contributor at SB Nation NBA, Editor-in-Chief of Silver Screen and Roll.

Loading comments...