The Lakers 2018 offseason was roundly criticized for failing to address the team’s needs on a roster that already had LeBron James. It seemed like the Lakers started to course correct at the trade deadline, but the moves that the team made this summer make it clear that Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office are really learning from their mistakes.
Pelinka made that clear on a conference call with the media Friday when he said, “I think the greatest teacher of life for all of us is experience. And I think that to be great at anything you have to learn from the past. And I think we took a lot of what happened last year into account, in kind of shaping this roster and shaping our goals for the season.”
It wouldn’t be Pelinka if he weren’t grandiose in his statements, but it’s worthwhile that he acknowledges the failures of last season’s team-building. The Lakers have addressed those shortcomings, namely shooting, for this year’s roster as they searched for players to complement James and Anthony Davis.
“The North Stars for us were some of the things that I listed in the opening,” Pelinka said. “We wanted to add more shooting, we wanted to add perimeter defenders, high IQ players, guys with high character, and then a versatile lineup.”
Pelinka went on to list different combinations of players the Lakers can use to toggle between lock-down defensive lineups and also high-volume three-point shooting lineups. The malleability of players like Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, and Avery Bradley will afford Frank Vogel the ability to play different styles depending on the flow of the game, which was a priority in assembling this team.
“I think we wanted to have a diverse set of tools to give Coach Vogel and his staff what he needed to win,” Pelinka said.
What was left unsaid about the role players that the Lakers signed this offseason was that all of them, other than Troy Daniels, have experience playing in at least the conference finals. Jared Dudley and Bradley have both been in the conference finals once, while Cousins played in the NBA Finals last season, and Quinn Cook and Green are both NBA champions. Pelinka may not have expressly mentioned postseason experience when lauding the new signings, but that characteristic will certainly help the Lakers achieve their ultimate goals this season.
“I think you always have to learn and evolve and adapt as a leader from the past, and for us anything short of a championship is not successful,” Pelinka said. “We have to learn from last season because we didn’t win a championship. And a lot of that went into the construction of the roster this year.”
The Lakers had to pivot rather quickly into signing the bulk of their roster after losing out on Kawhi Leonard, and the types of players they targeted indicate a solid understanding of what the team needed alongside their two superstars. Getting all the players on the same page will be a new challenge, but at least the roster, theoretically, makes sense.
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