SB Nation NBA team blogs are gathering for our annual season preview, and we're at the plate at Silver Screen and Roll. We'll be previewing the season more in-depth before opening night, but this is a great overview for our collaborative sharing across the network!
Team Name: Los Angeles Lakers
Last Year's Record: 21-61
Key Losses: Ed Davis, Jordan Hill, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer
Key Additions: D'Angelo Russell, Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, Brandon Bass
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The biggest move for the Lakers, without a doubt, was the addition of D'Angelo Russell with the No. 2 pick. Keeping the top-five protected pick was a must for the rebuilding franchise, and leaping up to second-overall was an unexpected swing in their favor. Bringing in veterans like Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams may not move the needle individually, but together they represent a big upgrade in talent over the players they're replacing.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
It's hard to tell without seeing the team come together, so we'll go another way with it. The roster construction is the biggest strength this season. It's not that these pieces all fit together from an X's and O's standpoint -- that's the hard part. But the Lakers need to take the long view with their young talent, and bringing in proven veterans who aren't past their prime is a great move in balancing the roster out.
Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Russell won't need to and can't do it all. That's what a team filled with proven talent is there to smooth out, and from the looks of their offseason training, they're building the kind of culture they're striving for.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
This is a three-way tie between three-point shooting, defense and coaching. Each of these things are glaring issues, but the team has made moves to try and address these problems this summer. The roster changes the team went through should help both of those on-court areas, while the team has made a very public stance that analytics are making their way into the franchise.
Byron Scott working with the basketball operations team as they try to progress in this area is key, and he's been a willing participant in these changes thus far. All of these improvements in these areas sounds good, but until they get put to the test through an 82-game season, they remain problem areas.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Developing their young talent and staying (relatively) healthy through the season should be the primary goals for the Lakers this season. Next up would be having a tangible improvement in the win-loss column. Bovada has the over/under for season win totals at 29.5, and improving to 30 wins or more would be a big step forward for the Lakers.
5. Can Roy Hibbert find his niche in Los Angeles?
Trading for Roy Hibbert was a great swing for the Lakers, who desperately needed an overhaul on the defensive front. He's said all of the right things heading into preseason, focused on leading the defense and protecting the paint. The Lakers don't have an answer at center elsewhere on the roster, and if Hibbert can improve a horrendous defense, the 28-year-old big man could be worth a long-term investment.
Having a defensive specialist like Roy Hibbert could be the next block in the Lakers' rebuild. We'll have to see how it plays out, but he's looked great in his first preseason outings.
6. Will this be it for Kobe Bryant?
The rookies and new talent is all well and good, but Kobe Bryant facing what may be the final year of his NBA career is the biggest question of all. He's entering his 20th season and injuries have stolen his basketball life from him over the past few years. If Kobe can remain healthy and is effective, would he consider pushing ahead with the young talent he's grooming and cap space to welcome All-Star talent with? If Kobe goes down with another injury, will that really be how his story ends?
Stay tuned. This Lakers season promises to be fascinating.