Preseason Preview #8: Los Angeles Lakers

Season Goal: Develop Chemistry

In the midst of one of the most interesting offseasons, the Lakers’ managed to sign LeBron James. After striking out on a second superstar, such as Paul George, the Lakers’ handed out one-year contracts to Rondo, Stephenson, Beasley, and McGee. This odd assortment of players likely won’t be on the team long-term, but still are interesting signings. With all the change this offseason, the Lakers need to work on building chemistry. Lebron signed for 4 years, with a player option in the 4th, so the Lakers have time to build something. But, if the young guys can’t work with Lebron on or off the court this team will face serious issues.

Storylines:

LABron

The most obvious addition of the offseason,  Lebron James, will likely transform this team in one year. Despite the 12th best defense, the Lakers’ struggled on offense ranking only 23rd in the league. This led to a lackluster record of 35-47 and an 11th place finish in the Western Conference. By adding one of the smartest and most skilled offensive players in the league their offensive rating should skyrocket. Not only has Lebron averaged over 25 PPG every season since his rookie year, but he also averaged 9.1 assists per game last season. His combination of scoring and being able to find the open man will be a huge boost to the Lakers’ offense.

Ignoring the stats, Lebron also passes the eye test for what the Lakers need. Last year they relied on Ingram to create his own offense and he was just not very effective. Having somebody who can hit tough shots in clutch situations as well as get his own shot whenever he wants is a luxury the Lakers’ offense hasn’t had in years. Lebron and the young team around him will surely be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season.

Meme team

The offseason signing of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and JaVale McGee was dubbed the “meme team” by many NBA fans (and “M.U.D.” by Lebron James). There is no doubt that all of these players have interesting pasts, but how will they affect the Lakers’ roster. First of all, they are all on one-year deals to preserve cap space for the 2019 season, so they likely won’t be sticking around. But, looking at their impact in this one year, Rondo will probably be the most significant. Not only is his high IQ and passing vision valuable on the court, but his leadership will be important for this young team. A seasoned veteran who has played an important role on championship teams and multiple deep playoff runs his experience will definitely help in the locker room. Also, because of his similarities to Lonzo’s game, it would make sense he could significantly aid his development. Adding a smart, seasoned player for one year was a great move by the Lakers and should reap benefits in the future.

The rest of the players are less intriguing. JaVale has championship experience while Lance and Beasley offer shot creation and a competitive edge. These are valuable tools, and on one-year contracts, these players’ flaws won’t hurt the Lakers at all. Although the signings weren’t bad they likely won’t transfer into more wins now, or in the future.

Depth Chart:

PG: Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Isaac Bonga

SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, Svi Mykhailiuk

SF: Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley

PF: LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma

C: JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac, Moritz Wagner

Salary Cap Situation:

~91M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac

Bad Contracts: None

*All salary data via sportrac*

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