Three Reasons For the Los Angeles Lakers’ Improvement in 2021-22
It’s a new season to prepare for in Los Angeles. How can the Los Angeles Lakers bounce back from a first-round exit to the Phoenix Suns? On paper, the Lakers progressed tremendously by bringing in key players who can play their roles significantly. Now, it is up to Frank Vogel and his coaching staff to determine how to assert the new pieces to the puzzle.
Last season didn’t come together with the way the Lakers projected it to be. After coming off of a 2020 NBA Championship in the Bubble, the team regrouped quickly after a two-month offseason before the 2020-21 season began. From then on, things were mostly a disaster for Los Angeles. Their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both missed significant time due to injuries. Their other key role players in Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, and others couldn’t carry the load. As Davis went down with another injury in the playoffs, the Lakers were eliminated in six games of the first round.
With the acquisitions that were made in the offseason, there is no time to panic in Los Angeles. The Lakers may be seasoned with age. But they surely have a lot of veteran presence on this team. Last season, there were a lot of questions about the Lakers’ depth and whether it would be good enough to carry momentum. Well, we witnessed that in games five and six of the first round. This upcoming season is projected to be a completely different story. There are a few ways the Lakers improved compared to this past season.
How Los Angeles Will be Improved This Upcoming Season
As many of us know, LeBron James is one of the greatest passers the game has ever seen. For the past few years, he has been the point guard for the Lakers in orchestrating the offense to perfection. Going into year 19, James can take a seat back as a decision-maker. The Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook early in the season along with signing Rajon Rondo in a buyout.
Both Westbrook and Rondo are coaches on the floor. Their court vision is better than most and they always set the tone with getting others involved. Placing Westbrook alongside James in the lineup can open opportunities for LeBron to play freely without controlling the offense. Rondo will come in and continue the momentum as Westbrook goes to the bench.
As the Lakers shipped away players in Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and others, the front office redeemed themselves with some key signings this offseason. The Lakers may have arguably gotten better offensively with signings of Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn, and plenty others.
Obviously, the biggest signing may have been Anthony pairing with his good friend, LeBron. The two have been rivals on the floor for 18 years before finally being on the same side. Anthony’s ability to put the ball in the basket will be critical off the bench. His offensive performance could set the tone for the rest of the second unit.
It’s not every day that Anthony Davis will be placed at the center position. So, the Lakers made sure to bring in key players who could fill in that spot. Last season, the Lakers acquired Marc Gasol, a player who is known for rim protection. Unfortunately, due to age, he wasn’t the biggest impactful player protecting the basket.
Luckily, the Lakers brought back a familiar face in signing Dwight Howard. He played a huge role in the Lakers’ championship season and they were happy to bring him back. Also, the Lakers were able to acquire DeAndre Jordan as well. Both Howard and Jordan will fill in the responsibility of rim protection, which can help the Los Angeles Lakers become a number one defensive team again.
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