There are mixed reactions concerning how the Lakers’ season ended. One group argues that the team outperformed by reaching the Western Conference finals, while others suggest it was a poor season. The latter is considering the star power of Lebron James and Anthony Davis.
With the 22/23 season coming to a close, teams, including the LA Lakers, will want to revamp their squads. There are several factors the LA team can do, and here are steps the team could take for an excellent 23/24 season.
Ensure Lebron James Remains a Laker
The current all-time NBA scorer, Lebron James, will be entering his 21st season and getting to the age of 39. Nonetheless, the Lakers cannot afford to lose him now, proving he’s still elite throughout the concluded season.
James assisted his team in crucial games, impacting NBA odds, especially if you are live betting. His impressive performance in the playoffs, on both ends of the floor, was historical, a factor the LA team cannot afford to lose.
Additionally, he is the team’s core, his leadership role being needed to guide the entire squad. Also, remaining in the squad means he’ll attract better talent to the Lakers during the off-season.
Find an Elite Big-Man Backup
Anthony Davis is the sole two-way big man in the squad, but he’s sometimes considered inconsistent. Michael Van der Veldt was a good acquisition on the defensive end, helping the team contain Stephen Curry in the Western Conference Semis. However, his offensive production is minimal, and he slacks off a bit in crucial defensive moments.
Another big man is Mo Bamba, who’s got little to no show in the team’s rotation. Perhaps this is because of his under-performances in the last couple of years, before his arrival on the Lakers squad. Nonetheless, he’s still a young ‘big’ with the chance to develop. He provides an option with the market lacking elusive centers.
Names like Mason Plumlee and Spur’s Jacob Poelt are available. Poelt is an excellent option, considering his great season under coach Popovich, but the team must be ready to match his asking salary. Meanwhile, Plumlee is also good but not the most elite defensively. He, however, provides great offense, something the Lakers could use when Davis and Lebron are benched.
Prioritize Maintaining Austin Reeves and Rui Hachimura
Reeves and Hachimura proved their worth with the opportunity provided by the Lakers. Reeves has been the go-to young star when the team struggled offensively. Considering his third option role, the 13-point average for the season is great, also helping his team survive missing the playoffs.
Interestingly, Reeves is an undrafted star who entered the Lakers’ starting lineup. He greatly eliminated the Grizzlies, and his role got bigger when playing the Warriors. According to analysts like Skip Bayless, he deserves a great payday, which the Lakers should offer before other teams snatch him.
Help Develop Rui Hachimura
Hachimura was acquired during a mid-season trade which saw the team overturn their bad run of form. The team saw former Hachimura teammate Russel Westbrook leave, clearing up cap space for better role-player additions.
He is by far the best deal of the trade, his immense output from the bench shocking many. The 6’8 power forward proved his worth in the playoffs when he came in to show his defensive skills against a versatile and 2-time MVP, Nikola Jokic.
He also doubles as a threat offensively and is compared to legendary teammate Lebron James. Therefore, he can be a Lakers long-term franchise player.
Changes in Guard’s Position and 3-Point Players Acquisition
The Lakers have had issues since bringing in Russel Westbrook as a primary guard, the all-star and former MVP failing to sync with Lebron and Davis. His trade did make space for D’Angelo Russell, who has performed impressively in the remainder of the regular season, while his playoff performance went downhill. The team can use him as a trade option, though as history has it, he can still be valuable when held on.
Lakers can therefore look for free agents with a long list of elite guards available. Former Lebron teammate Kyrie Irving is considering a move to LA as an unrestricted free agent, or the team can consider Fred VanVleet but have to hope the Raptors don’t re-sign him.
These two have been NBA champs before, which is what the team’s starting lineup needs. They are also excellent 3-point shooters who can help increase the squad’s percentages from beyond the arch.
More help can come from the likes of Mike Conley or Chris Paul. The two veteran guards can help push the team through their unique playmaking and calculated offensive shots.
The Lakers clearly need some additions, but they should minimize losing key players in trades. Important roles in the team can be given to the likes of Hachimura and Reeves while they can try getting elite free agents to fill the team’s gaps.