Last year’s Los Angeles Lakers roster construction will live in infamy for a variety of reasons but none more pronounced than LeBron James’ analysis of the experiment of having him off the ball. Rob Pelinka has since abandoned such an experiment in favor of a roster that makes more sense given James’ talents.
Frank Vogel is responsible for optimizing that roster, and it seems he’s a fan of what the front office put together, as he told ESPN during their telecast of the Lakers summer league game Wednesday night against the New York Knicks:
“Well obviously it starts with those two guys in LeBron and AD, and what kind of players that complement them. Obviously, the shooting is a major piece... The only guys that aren’t quote unquote known as shooters are Rajon (Rondo) and JaVale (McGee), and Rajon has improved dramatically over the last few years from the 3-point line.
“So we’re gonna have guys all over the court that carry the threat. JaVale is going to carry the extreme lob threat, but even a guy like DeMarcus Cousins playin the five position is going to give us five shooters out there.
“That’s where there’s been the most success in the modern NBA, is playing with as much space as possible, and when you put space around elite offensive players like AD and LeBron, you’re going to have a lot of success. So that’s where it started, we’re going to make sure that everybody can at least pull their weight on the defensive end, so we got a lot of two-way players too.”
Pelinka deserves a ton of credit for having a contingency plan ready to act on in case Kawhi Leonard didn’t come, and then executing it as soon as that was the case. Danny Green by himself is going to immensely improve the spacing James had to slog through last season, and that’s before we get to what Anthony Davis does to opposing defenses.
Now, the Lakers absolutely need Kyle Kuzma to improve on the abysmal shooting season he had last year (30.3 percent from three) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will have to hit shots while games still matter. But this has the makings of a team very capable of fitting James’ skillset.
Where I think Vogel gets a little ahead of himself is when he talks about the spacing Rondo offers, but hey, we all get a little too excited during July sometimes.
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