The Los Angeles Lakers are almost guaranteed to be better this season than they were last year. How much better is an open question, but after adding players like Anthony Davis, Danny Green and more, the purple and gold look set to fairly easily outperform last year’s roster.
Kyle Kuzma is excited about that reality, and thinks general manager Rob Pelinka, controlling governor Jeanie Buss and the rest of the team’s executives did a great job building out the roster this summer. He outlined why he feels that way to Cari Champion of ESPN:
”I like what we did. We did a great job, kudos to Rob and Jeanie for putting that team together, and I think we’re super versatile. We can go big, we have perimeter defense, we have shooting. We’re versatile on defense and offense too, so I think they did an amazing job.”
Kuzma is pretty much right on all fronts, especially that first part about this team’s ability to go big. With him, LeBron James and Anthony Davis serving as three of this team’s core offensive players, there is a chance the Lakers could play some massive lineups if those three play at the same time alongside one of the roster’s two traditional centers, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard.
That probably won’t happen a ton, as such a combination of players might leave the Lakers struggling defensively, but they do have the pieces to effectively play the other ways Kuzma describes as well. Danny Green is a better defensive wing than the Lakers have had in years, and while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn’t always consistent, he has shown plenty of ability to take tough perimeter assignments at times.
As for shooting, both of the aforementioned players bring it in spades, as do Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels, among others the Lakers added, in addition to Kuzma himself. The front office finally prioritized having shooters at every position this offseason, and it looks set to result in tons of space for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to play in when certain lineup combinations are on the floor.
All of those factors contribute to the versatility on both ends that leaves Kuzma so excited. It’s just going to be interesting to see how much new Lakers head coach Frank Vogel experiments with lineups early on. Will he try to play balanced groups that can defend, shoot and stay big? Or will the Lakers’ unique combination of players force him to prioritize one attribute in certain lineups and hope to take advantage of an opponent by hammering them one specific way, such as going small and blowing the doors off teams with shooting while giving up something on defense, or sacrificing shooting at the altar of defending a bit better.
Whatever route Vogel decides to go, it’s clear the Lakers have the talent to contend this year, especially in the suddenly wide-open west. They have players who can do just about everything, it’s just going to be a matter of putting together the right lineup puzzle pieces to make everything click. If the team can do so, Kuzma’s excitement will be proven more than warranted. If they can’t, the Lakers will still be better, they just may be a bit more flawed than most contenders usually are.
Thankfully, we’re only about a month away from getting our first look at which direction this Lakers team will trend.