Fixing the Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers shook the league this off-season with the blockbuster trade of the season. They acquired Russell Westbrook via trade with the Washington Wizards. As a result, this gave the Lakers a big three of Russ, Anthony Davis, and of course, LeBron James. For good reason, many thought this made the team the favorites in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned for the Lakers as they are currently sixth in the West with a win-loss record of 13-12. For a team with Finals expectations, this is clearly not good enough. Here are some adjustments they can make to right the ship.
Making Adjustments for the Los Angeles Lakers
Changes to Starting Lineup
Part of this first solution is dependant on many of the role players’ health. Guys like Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn have been sidelined all season long. When they eventually come back, it may pay a dividend to insert Ariza into the starting rotation to help guard the three-point line, something the Lakers have struggled with all year long. The Lakers have been trying to start DeAndre Jordan all season long and it simply is not working. It is time to put Dwight Howard into the starting center spot to help with the rebounding and rim protection. These are just a few subtle changes, but they could also make all the difference in the world.
The Los Angeles Lakers are not the defensive juggernaut that they were the past two seasons. They currently rank 15th in team defensive rating. Last season, they ranked first in the NBA in defensive rating. Lucky for them, there are already potential targets on the trade market that could help them get back to being a top 10 defensive squad. Torrey Craig may not be a household name, but he is of the same mold as Trevor Ariza, but much younger. He was in the NBA Finals last season and was with the Denver Nuggets when they made a deep playoff run, so he knows what it takes to win. He would help the Lakers start chasing shooters off the three-point line and possibly inspire the others to start hustling on defense. The Pacers have put him on the market and it would do the Lakers good to at least take a look.
Another trade candidate would also be Jerami Grant. He is not going to win anything anytime soon in Detroit and the Pistons may be willing to part with him for a couple of draft picks in return. Grant has shown he can be a good defender in spurts. Another candidate would be another Indiana Pacer recently made available in Myles Turner. Turner would provide some additional rim protection and be a massive upgrade over DeAndre Jordan. There is still plenty of time before the Trade Deadline, so the Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of options.
A wild card idea is asking Russell Westbrook to do something he has never done before. That is why it is only a wild card idea. To his credit, he has started playing more controlled as of late and is finally settling into this new team. Still, it is worth considering asking Russ to take a Sixth Man role and lead the second unit. This would make the Lakers an extremely deadly bench unit, especially with Carmelo Anthony looking rejuvenated coming off of the bench. This would allow LeBron James and Anthony Davis to come out for a breather and not have to worry about digging the team out of a hole. Westbrook is a future Hall of Famer and former MVP, so this most likely won’t happen. However, if the Los Angeles Lakers want to still have title aspirations, then there is going to have to be some sacrifice.
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