The Lakers made a huge splash by signing Lebron. They also signed a few other vets. All these moves certainly help the Lakers in the short term, but what about after that? Lebron seems to play better every year, but that won’t hold true forever. Their other acquisitions in Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee, and Lance Stephenson, are all likely short term. The Lakers need the short term success to pan out, but they also need their young guys to develop with the vets to take over the team. If they develop this year into solid players, they might become Lebron’s supporting cast after this year.
The young guys on the team showed various levels of promise last year. These players include Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart. The biggest question is how these players will continue to develop now that Lebron and other vets joined the team. It’ll be up to the organization management and coaching staff to make sure that the arrival of Lebron doesn’t stunt their growth.
In terms of fit on paper, I think Kuzma and Hart will benefit greatly, as they both shoot the three well, and can also make the right plays for themselves. Also, them being young might mean they are willing to change their game quickly to best fit with Lebron, where vets might be more hesitant or unable to make such changes.
Shooters often play much better around Lebron James, as he attracts a lot of attention by driving, and he can kick the ball out to the open guys in the corners or along the weak side. Also, if Hart and Kuzma learn to analyze the play and move off the ball, they will have great seasons next year. When players make cuts or move along the three point line, Lebron will find them. Also, Rajon Rondo is a great passer and will always find the open man.
Lonzo Ball couldn’t shoot at all last year, so either he needs to learn quickly with Lebron as the primary ball handler, or he needs to provide enough value with his passing and rebounding ability. Also, Rondo joining the team means Lonzo will likely come off the bench, and his role will be diminished, as everything he can do, Rondo can do just as well. That being said, I think the Rondo signing is a great move for Lonzo Ball in the long term, as Rondo will be a good mentor.
Brandon Ingram will need to become more of a pure shooter and scorer when Lebron is on the bench. I think Ingram’s career is most at risk with Lebron, as I never saw much potential with him in the first place, but now his role seems mostly obsolete as Lebron does everything much better than he does. Also, the Lance Stephenson acquisition takes away from Ingram’s ability, because Stephenson is another play maker who can do a bit of everything on the court. I expect Ingram to be a 7th or 8th man in the rotation next year, and I don’t believe he’ll rise up beyond that while Lebron is on the team.
Overall, I believe this off season was great for the Lakers, as signing Lebron makes them a championship contender right away, and signing the other vets only help with that. However, I also believe these free agency signings were great in the long term as well, as Kuzma, Hart, and Ball will all get better from playing with and learning from Lebron and Rondo this year.
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