Areas Of Strength
Youth and balance helped guide the Los Angeles Lakers through a transition season and will catapult them into this offseason. The core of the group is all under 24: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Julius Randle (who’s a restricted free agent). Lakers president Magic Johnson made it a priority to go hard with player development in order to give the Lakers a chance to grow organically and uniformly. The question now becomes whether the Lakers want to continue to add to this youth core through the draft again, or if it’s time to go for broke and sign or trade for veteran help.
The Lakers lack a big scorer, yet Kuzma and Ingram appear headed in that direction. Size is an issue and the Lakers must address the center position soon if they plan to use a bigger lineup in their system. Brook Lopez fell out of favor during the season, mainly because he’s a perimeter 7-footer who never rebounded well throughout his career. Plus, he’s a free agent. The Lakers also dealt away Larry Nance Jr. at midseason, who at 6-foot-7 served as their only rim protector. Therefore, someone who can serve as an imposing presence in the paint would help.
Two Stats That Matter
5.0 -- The Lakers were the most improved defensive team in the league, allowing 5.0 fewer points per 100 possessions (105.6) than they did in the 2016-17 season (110.6).
2.6 -- The Lakers made 2.6 more 3-pointers per game after the All-Star break (11.8) than they did before the break (9.2). They saw the league's biggest post-break increase in both 3-point percentage (from 33.3 percent before the break to 36.8 percent after it) and the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range (from 31.0 percent to 37.3 percent).
-- John Schuhmann
The Way To Go
The Lakers aren’t in a position to be picky with the 25th pick. At that stage of the Draft, they’ll choose the best available player. It gets real interesting if a point guard is that player. Suppose Aaron Holiday of the famous Holiday family, who grew up in Southern California and played at UCLA is still on the board? He’d be hard to pass up even if the Lakers remain high on Ball. Donte Divincenzo of Villanova is another possibility.
2017-18 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 104.2 (22nd)
Defensive: 105.6 (13th)
G: Lonzo Ball
G: Corey Brewer
G: Josh Hart
G: Kyle Kuzma
G: Tyler Ennis
F: Luol Deng
F: Brandon Ingram
F: Ivica Zubac
G: Isaiah Thomas (unrestricted)
G: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (unrestricted)
F: Julius Randle (restricted)
F: Channing Frye (unrestricted)
C: Brook Lopez (unrestricted)
Recent Draft History
2017: Lonzo Ball (2), Tony Bradley (28), traded to Utah Jazz
2016: Brandon Ingram (2), Ivica Zubac (32)
2015: D’Angelo Russell (2), Larry Nance Jr. (27), Anthony Brown (34)
2014: Julius Randle (7)
2013: Ryan Kelly (48)
2012: Robert Sacre (60)
-- Shaun Powell