Zach Harper’s Lakers offseason report: Overall grade, roster breakdown, goals for 2021-22
— LakerTom (@LakerTom) September 20, 2021
What does it mean for next season?
Everybody is concerned about the spacing for the Lakers. At a certain point, when it comes to making it to the NBA Finals and winning the championship, that might come into play. Westbrook is a historically poor 3-point shooter but unfortunately seems to like to take those shots. Davis is not a floor spacer and has struggled with his outside jumper over the years. James can be all over the place when it comes to his accuracy from outside. Where the Lakers will try to flip things on their opponents is by being overwhelming from a physical standpoint. Yes, Russ, LeBron and AD all could have terrible seasons shooting the ball, but the three of them excel at being too strong or long or athletic for their opponents. That’s where things can get dicey for a team packing it in. Movement can be a battering ram.
If the Lakers find the rhythm of being able to collapse a defense and then have one of their freak athletes on the move catching the pass, chaos can reign for the opposing defense. Role players like Anthony, Ellington, Monk and Ariza will be asked to make them pay for collapsing, as well. LeBron and Russ can find guys quite easily. Against a scrambling defense, offensive rebounding opportunities for Davis will pop up. That’s the design, at least. The overwhelming physical presence of their big three will work most of the time. It will crush on random nights in the regular season, and then it’ll get more strategic when the playoffs arrive. If the Lakers are healthy, you have to feel good about their chances to get back to the championship parade. If they’re not healthy, will the extra star on the roster help them survive?
Did the Lakers put enough shooting around their big three?
If there is such thing as enough 3-point shooting to compensate for Russell Westbrook’s inability there, then the Lakers did it. Rob Pelinka added five players who shot 38 percent or better from 3 last year, and that doesn’t count Trevor Ariza, who is a career 35 percent shooter. The shooting is a vast upgrade from a year ago, when the Lakers ranked 21st in 3-point shooting. Westbrook is an awkward fit for the Lakers with LeBron James, and much of that stems from his high volume (4.2 3s per game last season) and historic inefficiency (31.5 percent). Alongside James, he will often not be in control of the ball and simultaneously not provide a threat from the outside. Yikes. The cleanest workaround to this is for the Lakers to persuade Anthony Davis to play the bulk of his minutes at center, allowing the Lakers to start two other floor spacers (perhaps Kent Bazemore and Ariza) and leaving Westbrook as the only non-shooter on the floor. Sources have indicated throughout the summer that Davis is not only willing to play more minutes at center but to start games there. That will allow Frank Vogel to utilize more of his new shooting weapons alongside Westbrook.
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