Lebron James and Anthony Davis both won their first championship as Lakers just a couple months ago. It was the reassurance that Laker fans and the organization needed after a hectic 2019 season when Lebron James first got to Lakerland. The team acquired Davis last offseason and seem as though they do not intend to look back. While the superstar power forward’s max contract is currently being discussed between he and the team, Rob Pelinka and his front office have wasted no time on furthering improving this team even after just hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. After all, they do have the best player on the planet and a top 5 player alongside him. To not maximize these next two (potentially) plus years of having both of these players on the roster would be completely foolish. Jeanie Buss knows that her team is currently in a position to continuously compete for a championship with these two players and it appears that she’s on the same wave as everyone else; make this team even better and get the Lakers back to their NBA royalty days.
Lakers Go Shopping
The 2020 offseason started with the acquisition of Dennis Schroder from the OKC Thunder in what turned out to be a 3-team deal that saw the Thunder acquire multiple picks and Al Horford, while the 76ers received Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson. Schroder finished this season 2nd in NBA Sixth Man of the Year voting after he averaged 18.9 points and 4 assists. He’s consistently been a very solid role player everywhere that he’s been and Schroder has also shown the ability to shoot from 3 point range these past two seasons, as he shot an average of 36% from beyond the arc. The new Lakers guard can also be very affective off the ball as he showed all of us that ability while playing with Chris Paul this past season, and also with Russell Westbrook the season before that. He is also only 27 years old so it will bring fresh legs to a Lakers team that was the 2nd oldest team in the NBA last year. Schroder may not be the defender that Danny Green was, but he makes up for it with his ability on the offensive end of the floor. Too many times last season we saw the Lakers struggle to get a third guy going besides their two superstars and on the nights where one of Lebron James or Anthony Davis struggled, sometimes the Lakers just could not rely on another player to step up. LA struggled to find a consistent 2nd ball handler in 2019-20 who could also score as Rajon Rondo struggled to stay healthy, Dion Waiters just didn’t pan out, and JR Smith was too little too late. With this acquisition, LA has their answer; Dennis Schroder.
Rob Pelinka did not stop there, going out and signing free agent guard Wesley Matthews to a 2-year deal. This is a great under the radar move for the Lakeshow as Matthews seems to be the perfect fit to play alongside Lebron James. First, the man can shoot the lights out. He is a career 38% shooter from 3 point range and most recently just shot 36%. He may not be a great shooter from the floor overall but when playing with Lebron & AD he is going to get a ton of open looks from past the arc and play a similar offensive role to Danny Green, who fed off of the open looks he was able to get from 3. Matthews is also a very under rated defender, as in 67 games last season with the Milwaukee Bucks he ranked top 20 (19th) in the entire NBA in real defensive plus-minus. I am not going to pretend like that is the tell-all stat that means he will be a great defender in LA, but it does show how effective he was in Milwaukee. The newly signed Laker is 34 years old on the back half of his career and while his PPG numbers don’t jump off the page, he’s another solid role player who holds the necessary tools to excel in this Lakers offense.
Getting the guard depth they needed was extremely important for LA, but once again Rob Pelinka kept pushing for more. Most people out there figured that Dwight Howard would re-sign in Lakerland after having a solid season in 2020, and while it looked like that would prove true he ended up pump faking on the team and signing a one-year deal in Philadelphia. That left room on this roster for a big man that plays with very high energy and outworks most players on the court when he is out there. Enter the signing of Montrezl Harrell. Harrell was the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA and is only 26 years old. He started slow in his career but has really come around the past 3 years, especially the last two where he was one of (if not) the best bench players in the league. Over these past two seasons he has averaged 17.5 points and 6.8 rebounds and shown the ability to overachieve in a role that doesn’t usually warrant such production. Every championship team needs a gritty guy who’s willing to do the dirty work. Someone who isn’t afraid to defend a teammate when they’re getting disrespected, or likes the challenge of irritating opponents. That someone will be Montrezl Harrell this season for the Lakers, but he will not just be a grit guy. He should be a valuable contributor scoring wise and defensively as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
What’s Next for the Lakers?
After the high of winning an NBA championship wore off (if it does), the Lakers as an organization obviously knew that they had flaws on their roster that needed to be addressed before running it back with their core. They needed a second ball handler that could lead the second unit when Lebron was off the floor but also put the ball in the hoop and still have the ability to be affective while Lebron is on the floor; Dennis Schroder. They needed some more 3 point shooting around their superstars especially after losing Danny Green, and preferably a player who can defend too; Wesley Matthews. They also needed another big to fill the depth that Dwight Howard did last season, but hopefully an upgrade in production on the offensive end and a guy that has a reputation of not taking anyone’s crap; Montrezl Harrell. The Lakers (officially) have two years left on Lebron James’ deal and are currently expected to sign Anthony Davis to a new contract within the coming days. If this offseason has told us anything so far it’s that this team intends to do everything they possibly can to win championships, plural, while they have two of the top 7 players in the world on their roster.
Do you blame them?
By: Bradley Shatraw, CruelFan.com