Archives For Laker Analysis

Anthony Brown was selected with the 34th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. While not a 1st rounder, his draft slot is one where real talent can be mined. Players who go that early in the 2nd round are usually either high upside players, Europeans who can be “draft and stash” prospects, or seasoned college prospects who are deemed “more ready to play”.

Brown fell into that latter category, or at least that was the assumption. A 5th year senior out of Stanford, Brown as an All-Conference performer and deemed one of the better 3-and-D prospects in the draft. In Brown’s rookie season he oscillated between DNP-CD’s and major rotation player when Kobe sat out games due to injury or for rest.

On the season Brown’s individual stats were not very good, but the team was better than its season’s metrics when he was on the floor. The Lakers’ offense was .2 points per 100 possessions better and their defense was 7.3 points per 100 possessions better when Brown was in the game. These numbers still represented an overall negative net-efficiency rating, but the Lakers were a bottom-two team in both categories so that is expected.

While these numbers reflect Brown’s inclusion in somewhat workable lineups, they are also only one piece of the puzzle. Should Brown want to become more than a fringe rotation player, his individual production must rise to a point where he’s having a positive impact on the floor — especially offensively.

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With Julius Randle not participating in summer league, Larry Nance Jr. has taken on the starting role for the Lakers’ in Las Vegas. Over the first two games, he’s played 68 out of a possible 80 minutes and racked up some pretty good stats in the process.

Against the 76ers, Nance as a key performer in helping the Lakers come back from a big 2nd half deficit, playing strong defense and throwing down some highlight dunks. These are things, of course, Nance is already known for. Coming out of Wyoming and through his rookie season, Nance made his noise as a ferocious finisher above the rim and a guy who took pride in his defense.

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After the Lakers traded for Jose Calderon, my initial thought was that Marcelo Huertas would no longer be brought back. The Lakers had tendered Huertas a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, but Calderon, to me at least, made Huertas redundant and no longer needed.

Turns out I was wrong. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is reporting Huertas will return to the Lakers with a 2-year contract and Huertas himself confirmed it via instagram:

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For the second time in 6 days, Jose Calderon has been traded. After being part of the deal which sent Derrick Rose from the Bulls to the Knicks, Calderon was again dealt, this time to the Lakers, in a deal which helps the Bulls clear cap space to sign Dwyane Wade (coincidentally, another Chicago legend) in free agency.

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When Ivica Zubac fell to the Lakers in the 2nd round, many fans were quick to wonder exactly who the team just grabbed. The 19 year old Croatian has already proven to be a good quote and offers some good humor and exuberance about being taken by the team he grew up rooting for.

The big man also has some game and the Lakers are, reportedly, ready to lock him into a 3 year contract:

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The Lakers have been pretty busy through the first 4 days of free agency. The signings of Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng have added quality veterans who, even if not on the same timeline of the team’s young core, can still play quality basketball and will help move this team forward. Retaining Jordan Clarkson and Tarik Black have brought back two parts of that young core and guys who have proven (Clarkson, more than Black) they can be rotation players in this league.

Adding to these moves the drafting of Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac in June and the Lakers have reshaped their roster in needed ways. For a team which only won 17 games last year this should be expected, but it is still good to see. The team has filled needs and been decisive in doing so.

Their work, however, is not done. Counting all the above players, both free agents and draftees, the Lakers have a roster of 12 players (though, it should be noted, Zubac has not signed a deal yet). The roster minimum is 13 and the team can carry up to 15 players. So, there are still additions which can/need to be made. With that, let’s take a closer look at what the Lakers should still be targeting.

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Unless you live in a cave, you know Kevin Durant spurned the Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors in free agency. I have no hot takes on this topic, so if you’re looking for those I am sorry to disappoint. Once it was clear Durant was not a possibility for the Lakers, where he went was immaterial to me — well, I wouldn’t have wanted him to be a Celtic, but that’s another topic.

Anyways, Durant leaving OKC has put the spotlight right on his now former teammate, Russell Westbrook, and his own free agency which is only a season away. One can never know how these things will go, but without Durant in the fold, the angst surrounding Westbrook’s choice has now gone up tenfold. And with a future now cloudier than ever, national observers are saying the Lakers should make a play for Westbrook via trade to try and get the superstar they’ve sought, and not obtained, through free agency.

My thoughts on that are pretty straight forward and, if you follow me on twitter, you may have read them by now.

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In the lead up to free agency, one of the main concepts I heard about most from fans was the timeline of the Lakers’ young core. As the argument goes, the best way for the Lakers to continue to build the team is to seek out players of similar ages to their already existing young core.

LA needs a center, try to get 27 year old Hassan Whiteside or 23 year old Bismack Biyombo. Need a small forward? Look at 24 year old Allen Crabbe, 24 year old Harrison Barnes, 23 year old Maurice Harkless, or even 27 year old Kent Bazemore. These players, the argument goes, could grow with the Lakers’ young core so that when Russell, Randle, Clarkson, and Ingram are more mature and ready to win, the Lakers could potentially have an entire rotation of players in various stages of their respective primes.

All of this sounds great and makes total sense. In some cases, I have even argued for it myself.

In the wake of the Lakers signing soon to be 30 year old Timofey Mozgov and 31 year old Luol Deng — besides the case against paying them what the Lakers are (this applies more to Mozgov) for the number of years they are — the most frequent criticism I have heard about the signings is that neither player is on the young core’s timeline. When the Lakers’ young core is ready to win, these critics say, Mozgov and Deng will be too old or no longer very good.

While there’s a certain logic to this, my counter to this argument is…why should we really care about that?

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