The biggest news of the NBA off-season is obviously Lebron James signing with the Lakers. This was a big win for them, as landing the best player in the game could lead to another championship sooner rather than later. They have signed a few free agents since, and it looks like their off-season is over. Despite the Kawhi Leonard and Carmelo Anthony situations, it seems unlikely now that the Lakers will get either, so let’s take another look at their moves and how they surrounded Lebron.
The Lakers’ other free agent signings are Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee, and Lance Stephenson. They also retained Kantevious Caldwell-Pope. Many in the media seem to bash the Lakers for their failure to secure another high profile player. Paul George stayed in OKC, and Kawhi Leonard doesn’t look like he’ll be traded to the Lakers. However, the sports media often overreacts to things that don’t matter, and this is one of those times. The Lakers got a bunch of quality vets to surround Lebron.
Rajon Rondo is probably their best signing, as he will be a very reliable primary ball handler, and he can pass as well as anyone in the league. Lebron just came from the Cavs, who never really had a true point guard, so this will be a positive change. It will save him energy, and allow him to make plays off the ball.
Javale McGee had a great run with the Warriors. Obviously most players who go to the Warriors look really good because it’s easy to get open dunks when you play with four all stars, but they also showed the league how to properly use Javale McGee. Lebron and Rondo can find McGee around the basket, and he is a good defender around the rim. His size, length, and athleticism make it easy for him to challenge guards and big guys when they try to score in the paint.
Lance Stephenson is obviously the most amusing acquisition due to his history with Lebron. However, he is the wild card, which can be good or bad. He can make a lot of really great plays and score a lot of points in any individual game. He also can be a detriment to the team. Playing with a star like Lebron might make him more reliable. Also, I think the Lakers are confident that coach Luke Walton, will keep Lance in line, or take him out of the game when he’s a clearly not helping the team.
Lastly, keeping Caldwell-Pope was a great decision, as he is a really good three point shooter. Pure shooters can do a lot of damage when playing with Lebron, as they will get open looks by just camping out in the corners or on the weak side. Last season was his best three point shooting season by percentage at 38.3%, and that number should go up this season.
Despite the criticism, the Lakers did a great job of surrounding Lebron with quality NBA vets. Instead of signing one max player, they signed three new vets and kept a fourth. All three of their acquisitions had great seasons last year, and the Lakers can count on that success rolling over to this season.
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