Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers deviated from an age-old tradition of surrounding LeBron James with shooters. Unsurprisingly, that experiment fell apart almost immediately and by the time the team recognized the problem, it was too late.
This summer, the Lakers decided not to tempt fate a second time and added three players that have shot at least 40 percent from behind the 3-point line for their career: Danny Green, Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook. Jared Dudley, a career 39.2 percent 3-point shooter, just missed the cut.
The Lakers’ decision to surround James and his new superstar teammate, Anthony Davis, with shooters was influenced by newly-hired head coach Frank Vogel, who told Kyle Goon of the OC Register that constructing the roster was fairly simple:
Vogel was influenced by James’ Miami teams, with whom he sparred twice in the Eastern Conference Finals. He started evolving during his two-year tenure in Orlando, he said.
“It’s a simple concept, put shooters around elite offensive talents and you are going to be pretty good because your guys are either going to score or they’re going to find shooters on the weak side,” he said. “That’s the way our roster has been set up and built and we got an army of guys on that weak side that can punish either with the three or making plays off the bounce.”
The roster would have looked a little different had the Lakers signed Kawhi Leonard, but Vogel said he’s happy with the work the front office did in the aftermath of Leonard’s league-shifting decision to sign with the LA Clippers:
Vogel echoed an earlier sentiment from Rob Pelinka: Though the team had hoped to land Kawhi Leonard in free agency, they had done advance work to protect themselves for Leonard’s eventual decision to join the Clippers. Vogel said he had been comfortable with either scenario, and the way the roster worked out, he thought Pelinka and the front office had done well to assemble a competent cast for James and Davis relatively late into free agency.
“We felt good about adding players that will star in their roles around AD and LeBron,” he said. “The guys that we had all lined up are all going to come in and play their part and we feel just as good about our opportunity to compete for a championship now.”
The Lakers now have two stars in place and a handful of players that complement their stars well, which should be enough for them to compete for the top spot in the Western Conference next season. They might have more growing pains in the beginning than the Clippers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers, who kept most of their core intact, but they should be ready to go when the postseason rolls around.