3 questions remaining for the Lakers after free agency
The Lakers’ roster is almost complete heading into next season. They already have 14 players under contract and will definitely ride with this roster for the rest of the season. Their main goal was to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis with reliable 3-point shooters, even before the Kawhi Leonard fallout, and that’s exactly what they did.
Now, the Purple and Gold are expected to be legitimate title contenders next season, but a lot of people, including media experts are still not sold on the team they’ve built, which is understandable. The Lakers’ roster is filled with players who raise questions, which if answered negatively, could hurt the team in a lot of ways. How healthy will they be? Will all of them accept the role that will be given to them? Is everyone willing to buy into Frank Vogel’s system? These are things that worry most fans, but the Lakers aren’t the only team who has to deal with uncertainty.
So, aside from the obvious, let’s look at some of the questions that the Lakers will need to address now that the free agency frenzy is over.
Who should the Lakers target for their 15th and final roster spot?
The Lakers certainly have a lot of options here, as multiple reports have shown in the past. They will either wait for Andre Iguodala or another solid veteran to be bought out by another team before they decide to swoop them in. They can still go after Carmelo Anthony, although that’s already unlikely. If not, they can look at some of the best available free agents still out on the market.
There are still pretty decent players who’ve yet to find another team and judging by the Lakers’ roster, there is no doubt that they are thin at the power forward position. Aside from AD, no one from the roster is a natural four, and that could be a problem next season.
Sure, the Lakers can just play small ball most of the time, but as we’ve seen last season when LeBron or Kyle Kuzma were placed at the four, they struggled defensively. They need someone who has the experience to bang bodies inside the paint, and one great option is Kenneth Faried.
When Faried was given the opportunity by the Houston Rockets last season, he showed that he can still be an effective player. In 25 regular-season games, he put up an average of 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting at an efficient 58 percent from the field, including 35 percent from beyond the arc. He will definitely a great pickup and will definitely give the Lakers some quality minutes if they choose to sign him.
Who will be the Lakers’ starting point guard?
Another concern for the Lakers heading into next season is their guard-heavy roster. They have several players who will definitely compete for minutes at the point guard position. Last season’s starting floor general, Rajon Rondo is back with the team and you can guarantee that he will look to reclaim his spot.
Aside from him, the Lakers also have up and comers Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook, as well as sharpshooting veteran Troy Daniels. All of these players have their own set of pros and cons, which it is expected that the coaching staff will find it hard to decide who gets to start. Most of these players’ deals are only guaranteed for one year, so they will look to get as many minutes as they can to secure another paycheck next season.
But the best option to start will be Caruso. Over the past couple of years, he went from being an undrafted prospect to a G-League mainstay to securing a $5 million deal with the Lakers. He was given a significant amount of playing time in the team’s final games last season, and he definitely proved that he has what it takes to be a decent point guard in the NBA. In 25 games, he put up 9.2 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc.
And yes, playoff Rondo is still going to be superb, but at this point, it would be best if the Lakers give their youngsters a chance, and no one deserves it more than Caruso.
Who starts at center?
This is actually a tougher question to answer when you consider all factors present on the table. JaVale McGee just finished one of the best seasons of his career with the Lakers and will look to continue that momentum next season. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins just signed another ‘prove me’ contract and will most definitely demand a ton of minutes to show the rest of the league that he can still be an elite frontcourt player.
Healthwise, it will be great for the Lakers to start McGee, as he played 75 games last season. He put up 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game, which are solid numbers for someone who played behind LeBron and the team’s once-celebrated young core.
But, if Cousins can prove that he can return to at least 80 percent of who he was, then there is no doubt that he should get the starting spot. He returned from an Achilles injury back in January and played 30 regular-season games with the Golden State Warriors, putting up 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. However, he suffered a thigh injury in the playoffs, which now raise concerns about his ability to stay healthy.
Both of them will actually be a good starting center, but all issues aside, if we’re going to choose who’s better, then the answer to the question shouldn’t even be a debate.
But even if there is a lot of uncertainty around his health and character, the Lakers should give the nod to Boogie.
The Lakers are just like any other team. They have their potential and they also have their flaws. But if everything will go their way next season, a championship parade could be waiting for them in June. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see what happens, but this team is promising enough to make Laker fans excited.