Welcome to a new series for FB&G for the 2016 off-season. This series will focus on team building and various paths the Lakers have open to them for the upcoming off-season. We will try to cover a variety of scenarios the Lakers could feasibly take and what moves might be involved with that specific approach. This installment will focus on finding the middle ground towards building a winner.
The Lakers are in one of the more unique situations in the history of the organization. With no established star on the roster, there is no singular player to “sell” to fans. They are also coming off three of their worst seasons in franchise history and have just said goodbye to one of (if not the) greatest players in franchise history. Viewed through this prism, the Lakers are in a really rough spot.
On the other hand, they have just hired a young coach who fans are excited about. They just found out they would retain their lottery pick — the 2nd overall selection in a draft which many analysts say has two very strong prospects. They also have two additional former lottery picks already on the roster as well as a former 1st and 2nd round pick — all of whom have games which offer a fair amount of flair and excitement. Add to this an abundance of cap space (projections say around $60 million) on July 1st and it’s easy to see the Lakers as a team on the rise.
This makes the next steps the franchise takes crucial. The path they take to try and turn a doormat into a contender is worth discussing, then. We have already looked at the slow and steady approach and what a potential rapid race back to the top might look like. And while both of those paths have merit (one more than the other, in my opinion), I think the most realistic approach is one which lies in the middle.
The Lakers are tasked with building a winner, but that’s a long term goal. In the short term, they are seeking incremental improvements which come from strategic roster upgrades and the organic development of their young players. Here is what going about building a team that way might entail…