Archives For Laker Analysis

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…

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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 trying to become a contender as quickly as possible.

The past few seasons have seen the Lakers deal with a variety of structural roster issues which have hindered their potential to compete. Whether it was the large amount of money committed to Kobe Bryant, their lack of young players who were ready to contribute to a highly competitive team, or their lack of secure draft picks, the team simply did not have the type of resources available to them to foster a winning team.

The Lakers were also intent on trying to chase big fish in free agency, but with limited capital to sign more than one “max” level player, they eventually struck out on every star they chased. Rather than panic spend on players a tier below, the team tried to roll over their cap space for future seasons while also taking chances on short term veterans who might help bolster the win column. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Roy Hibbert, etc all took turns as key rotation pieces.

These acquisitions did not hamper future spending potential nor did they lead to many wins. The result, then, was a bunch of losses which helped the Lakers keep their lottery picks and a boatload of cap space heading into a summer where the cap will go up by roughly $25 million.

As it stands the Lakers now have a roster with three first round picks (Russell, Randle, Nance), a 2nd round pick who has outperformed his draft slot (Clarkson), an incoming lottery pick (#2 overall), and upwards of $60 million in cap space to spend on free agents. In other words, the Lakers now have some tools to try and construct a roster which can make the suffering of the past three seasons a distant memory.

The question, of course, is how to best go about that. We have already discussed a slow and steady approach, but an alternative to that method is to go all-in on the idea of building a contender as quickly as possible. How would they go about executing such a plan?

I’m glad you asked…

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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. Our first installment will focuses on taking a slow and steady approach. 

It’s funny how the perception of a team’s potential trajectory can be impacted in such a short amount of time. A month ago, on April 23rd, Byron Scott was still the Lakers’ head coach, Luke Walton was probably stressing out about Steph Curry’s knee injury and thinking about the Dubs losing game 3 to the Rockets, and the Lakers (and their fans) were still sweating about whether the team would keep their top-3 protected lottery pick.

Of course, a month later, things are entirely different and the general perception around the team is that they are a team on a major upswing. They now have a charismatic and young new head coach, they have the 2nd pick in June’s draft and the ability to draft one of two players considered to be in the upper tier of prospects, and still have all that cap space staring at them in the face waiting to be spent on July 1st.

It’s good to be a Lakers fan right now.

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I’m here to eat some crow. Yes, one of the Lakers’ toughest critics is here to admit it that I might have been too hard on the organization. This isn’t to say they never made mistakes, but for the most part, the Lakers’ offseason thus far is off to quite literally the best possible start.

The lesson: While it’s easy to see each mistake and show immediate concern in the moment, the bigger picture must remain in focus.

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…and I am not doing too well. Sure, I’ve tried to tell myself a few lies in the past few days. These lies were mostly told to try and make me feel less anxious or nervous. Now that the days has come, these lies have failed me. FAILED ME, I SAY.

Anyways, we’ve already discussed some of the consequences of today, so I won’t get into that much further. This pick is important and I would greatly prefer the Lakers keep it than lose it. Yes, there are a couple of silver linings should this pick fall outside the top-3 and go to Philly, but that’s like saying a silver lining to breaking your leg is that while you wear a cast one of your shoes doesn’t get any wear and tear on it.

So, let’s just stick to the numbers of the night and go from there…

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The Lakers are in that weird in-between time where they have a head coach, but since he’s still working for another team others have to speak for him. So, here’s Mitch Kupchak speaking on how Luke Walton’s past has informed his coaching perspective and the style he envisions the Lakers’ playing. There’s insight to be gained from those comments, but in reality, until we get those comments from the horse’s mouth with more detail in the plan to make those things happen, there’s really very little to learn there.

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On May 17th the NBA will hold their annual celebration of the losers…err their Draft Lottery. The Lakers (and their fans) understandably have a fair amount of angst around this event. With “only” a 55.8% chance of keeping their pick, the team can only sit and wait until their fate is announced on live television. I, for one, will have trouble watching.

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In the past week, names like Brian Shaw and Chris DeMarco have been floated as possible options as assistant coaches on Luke Walton’s staff. DeMarco is familiar with Walton due to ties with the Warriors where DeMarco is a player development coach after working in the video room and in advance scouting. Shaw, of course, has ties to Walton from their time with the Lakers where Shaw as an assistant while Luke a player on Phil Jackson’s teams.

Both guys fit the mold of the type of theoretical staff I would imagine Walton would build. They offer a mix of young and experienced, a guy who worked his way up through an organization and a former player who has championship experience on the floor and from the bench. Finding the right balance, I think, is vital for any staff, but especially for a coach like Walton who needs to surround himself with like minded guys, but also those with more experience with him who can offer a varied perspective and, at times, challenge him as he strives to improve as a first time head coach (and not just an interim one).

This is all speculation on my part, though. Luke Walton has not gone on the record of what he’s looking for in his staff and the names floated were, themselves, based on speculative reports from league and Warriors’ insiders. But while we don’t have insight from Luke, we do, luckily, have some from Mitch Kupchak who spoke with the media on Friday about Walton’s hiring. And in those comments, Kupchack hinted at the type of assistant Walton and the Lakers (who will have input on this) will be looking for.

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