Now that it is officially the offseason, there is no denying that the Los Angeles Lakers are in dire need of leadership. However, improvement is needed all-around in order for the team to have greater success next season.
It is no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers do not have a proven star on their roster. Although several individuals on their team could eventually be All-Star caliber players, that is a great unknown as of now.
Players along the lines of D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram have shown slivers of what could be. The two ballplayers have not demonstrated that they can be depended on every single night.
All-Star caliber players are like that. Fans of the purple-and-gold have not seen much of that in recent memory like they are used to.
Given the youth of the team, it remains a virtually unanswerable mystery. Few players on the Lakers have been in the NBA for longer than a couple of seasons.
Their head coach, Luke Walton, is fairly inexperienced himself. Granted he was Steve Kerr’s assistant for a couple of years up north, the 2016-2017 campaign was Walton’s first year at the helm.
All things considered, Walton’s first year in such a position was not a total failure. But, yes, in Laker Land, the wins and losses are generally perused before anything else is.
Thus, forbearance is a necessary ingredient that comes into play here. Certainly, though, followers of this historic franchise are not very patient. They are built from a different cloth.
As a result, fans can only hope that the team’s brass acquires such a talent through the draft. The draft is particularly top heavy and L.A. got lucky again due to receiving the number two pick.
Even if the Lakers do obtain a franchise-altering player, it will not be enough. Improvement is necessary all-around.
It is not to say that their number two pick will not help the team whether he is kept or utilized as a trade chip. But one player does not define a team, needless to say—simple as that.
There is a slight chance that their pick could be that highly coveted leader. Said fact aside, L.A. cannot keep relying on the draft to fix their issues.
Consequently, those on board already are every bit as critical as the number two pick.
Summers of hopeful thinking can no longer be happening. In lieu of that line of thought, legitimate progress is a must.
Some of the said improvement has already taken shape thankfully. Signs of this became evident when Jeanie Buss elected to fire her brother and Mitch Kupchak.
With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka aboard, some degree of hope has been renewed. Magic is arguably the greatest Laker ever, whereas Pelinka has been the agent of big names such as Kobe Bryant.
Magic is one of the most lovable personalities there is and can hold a conversation with anyone. The GM, on the other hand, is more of a thinker than his counterpart. The combination of them, though, could be deadly if any free agents are mulled over.
The main ambition is that the duo will be able to create convincing arguments when talking to players in that position. It will take more than touching on the history of the team or the bustling ways of the city.
Everyone discerns the championship part most especially. However, the various banners start to lose their luster when things are not happening in the present.
The past is truly beautiful, yet it cannot be stared at so consistently. Eventually, it has to be let go of because things are different now.
Ergo, Johnson and Pelinka will have to someway, somehow persuade other players that the Lakers are set to become relevant again.
The last few seasons in the City of Angels have not quite been that way. But this is an absolute must when it comes to helping get this organization back on track.
Kupchak was not effective with regard to constructing those arguments. Therefore, a lot rides on what the newbies can string together.
The organization cannot be reasonably expected to be championship contenders next season. Notwithstanding that truth, the expectations will only continue to rise.
Los Angeles has not even sniffed the postseason in four years. In the most literal sense of the word, this is uncharted territory for the 16-time world champs.
Accordingly, strides will need to be made in the next set of months.
The most significant strides have to be made by the team’s best players (as paradoxical as that may sound). When the purple and gold’s core four are looked at, each cog within that core could step his game up.
For instance, when Julius Randle is assessed, his strength and rebounding are perhaps his best assets. He could be better, though, with his off hand and improve his ball handling abilities when amidst heavy traffic.
Next, on the list comes Jordan Clarkson. In spite of his obvious ability to put the ball through the net, Clarkson has to become a little more selfless. Throughout the last two seasons, his assist ratio has gone down in comparison to his rookie numbers.
When Russell is thought about, he can likewise score and is an adept passer. Be that as it may, his strongest skills sometimes backfire on him. Russell takes ill-advised threes on occasion and he does not always resort to making the simple, smart pass.
Last but not least is Brandon Ingram, who is probably the best defender among the quartet due to his length. Nonetheless, Ingram needs to get stronger this summer in order to better absorb contact when driving to the basket.
As a unit, the area the Lakers need the most help in is defense. They cannot afford to have another season where they permit more than 110 points per game.
The ball may not always fall into the bucket, yet the other end of the floor is constantly under a player’s control. A lot of it trickles down to establishing that intrinsic discipline to do so. It extends beyond just being physically fit.
This goes for everyone. The core four cannot be the only ones looked to in that respect. The Lakers were atrocious in 2016-2017 on defense, so they can really only travel uphill.
It would also be beneficial if the Lakers found suckers for Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng. The odds of that actually occurring are low, but these two are essentially cavities that have to be filled.
Trading regressing veterans is not a piece of cake, whatsoever. When the pair is scrutinized, their trade value is not that lofty.
On account of that, this is where recruiting someone like Kobe Bryant becomes important. The Black Mamba would be an excellent person to have just when it comes to evaluating players’ strengths and weaknesses.
Bryant has stated repeatedly that he does not want a front office role with the Lakers. However, he has never ruled out helping them out, and this is an area he fits into the puzzle rather seamlessly.
Let alone that, Bryant could possibly help out in practice now and again. His competitive spirit is unmatched and showing these youngsters bits of that mentality (or reminding them of it for some others) would be invaluable.
No one is expected to be on Bryant’s level. He is one of the 10 greatest players of all-time.
Still, his presence could help separate the wheat from the chaff. The legend’s bulldog temper could help separate who deserves to don the purple-and-gold and who does not.
There are certainly other kinks to figure out, but addressing these spots over the summer would be a huge step in the right direction for Los Angeles.
The Lakers cannot be expected to be contending for a title soon—let’s just be honest. Nevertheless, seasons like these past four are no longer acceptable.
Only forward movement can occur at this point in time. There is no more wiggle room for monkeying around.
The Lakers have to get better this summer to thereby make Hollywood a top-notch destination once again. Being in the cellar may be cozy, but it is time to start making the ascension up the stairs and eventually to the rooftops.
The few suggestions outlined above will not necessarily remedy everything. But if even some of the things exhibited become a reality, the Lakers could end that four-year postseason hiatus.