Now that the dust has mostly settled, we can take a closer look at the 23-24 Lakers. This isn't an evaluation of off-season moves, but rather an analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the roster as currently constructed.
There are still 2 open roster spots, but we probably won't see a significant change anywhere but center. And with that, we begin with the:
Expected Depth Chart by Position
PG: D'Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent
SG: Austin Reaves, Max Christie, Jalen Hood-Schifino
SF: Lebron James, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Maxwell Lewis
PF: Anthony Davis, Rui Hachimura, Jared Vanderbilt
C: Jaxson Hayes
2-way: Cole Swider, Colin Castleton, D'Moi Hodge
- continuity at the top of the rotation
- good length at all levels
- 3 quality facilitators in LBJ, Russell and Reaves
- depth at both F positions
- 3pt shooting - newcomers Prince and Vincent have been good-but-not-great from range in their careers; Lakers will need LBJ to return to respectability (34-35%), while both Rui and Reaves will have to build off their white-hot playoff shooting with increased volume (6-8 attempts per game each)
- rim protection - unless he makes some HUGE strides this off-season, Hayes simply isn't an impact player; that leaves the bulk of the rim protection to Anthony Davis. While Davis is more than capable, it would be nice to add a defensive C with one of the open roster slots
- on-ball defense - Vincent and Vando are both quality stoppers, but they both leave something to be desired on the offensive side of the ball. If either one can address that deficiency they'll get a lot more PT and the Lakers will be very dangerous
- Russell, Reaves, LBJ, Hachimura, Davis - Unless a starting caliber center falls into the Lakers' lap, this would probably be my starting and go-to lineup. Denver is the only team in the West that could match this lineup right now....maybe PHX and Mem if they're healthy.
- Reaves, Vincent, LBJ, Vando, Davis - defensive lineup
- Russell, Vincent, Reaves, Prince, Davis - "small" lineup; should be able to run teams off the court
- Reaves, Prince, Hachimura, Davis, Hayes - "big" lineup; should be good on defense but may struggle to generate offense
- Russell, Vincent, Prince/Reddish, Hachimura, Davis - resting LBJ; Prince (offense) or Reddish (defense) depends on the matchup
- Russell, Reaves, Prince/Reddish, LBJ, Hayes - resting Davis; Prince (offense) or Reddish (defense) depends on the matchup
- Vincent, Christie, Prince, Vando, Hayes - clear the bench; give Christie some run
- Vincent, Hood-Schifino, Prince, Vando, Hayes - clear the bench; give Hood-Schifino some run
Projected regular season record (seed): 49-33 (3rd)
Health is obviously the key for this team in the regular season. Given conference parity and assuming LBJ/Davis play 60+ games, this team should be able approach 50 wins and finish with a top-4 seed in the conference. There are still some other question marks that will impact the Lakers:
- how will Memphis look with Smart but without Ja?
- will PHX ever figure it out?
- were the 22-23 Kings a fluke?
- not sure where Lewis will find PT...he may need to spend most of next year in the G-League
- if Christie makes major steps he could potentially challenge Prince/Reddish for PT...but that's a major "if"
- Vando needs to add a functional shot or he could be squeezed out of the rotation