It wasn’t a secret that the Los Angeles Lakers had a crucial offseason ahead of them after a first-round playoff exit in 2020-21.
The Lakers entered the summer with over 10 free agents to decide on, but most of them didn’t return.
Instead, Los Angeles went in a different direction and attempted to add more offensive-minded talent to support LeBron James and Anthony Davis since L.A. mightily struggled on that end of the floor.
Though last year’s No. 1 ranked defense may take a hit with staples like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso, among others, out of the picture, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had three priorities for the team, via Allen Sliwa of ESPN Los Angeles:
Rob Pelinka on 3 priorities for Lakers this offseason…
#1 Adding Playmaking/Playmaker
#3 Two Big Men (Similar to Championship season with Dwight & JaVale)@ESPNLosAngeles
— Allen Sliwa (@AllenSliwa) September 23, 2021
Let’s analyze if Pelinka accomplished those goals:
1. Adding playmaking/playmaker
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The most notable addition of the summer was Russell Westbrook, who arrived via trade from the Washington Wizards. The Lakers hoped Dennis Schroder would step up and be the third option behind James and Davis, but those aspirations failed. Instead, the Lakers are hoping the former league MVP can work out the floor-spacing issues and provide the star duo with relief on offense in various lineups. Westbrook has been one of the best passers and playmakers for a long time, and that was what Pelinka hoped for. Kendrick Nunn and Rajon Rondo also check this box. Nunn is more scoring-minded than Rondo, but both can handle the ball and facilitate an offense in specific scenarios, giving Frank Vogel more options. However, don't expect Rondo to play as much if everyone is healthy.
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The Lakers were near the bottom of the league last season when it came to 3-point shooting percentages. Caldwell-Pope and Gasol stood out as solid 40% options, but beyond that, the floor spacing was never consistent enough to gel with James and Davis. So, L.A. browsed the market and acquired several players who are coming off good 3-point shooting seasons. Wayne Ellington (42.2%), Carmelo Anthony (40.9%), Kent Bazemore (40.8%), Malik Monk (40.1%), Nunn (38.1%) and Trevor Ariza (35%) can all let it fly, with Ellington, Anthony and Monk having the highest volume out of the bunch. There will be shooting options. It's just a matter of how Vogel can fit them in a lineup with Westbrook, James and Davis playing at once.
3. Two big men
(Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
The Lakers traded Marc Gasol so he could potentially return to Spain. Andre Drummond was not re-signed as he went to the Philadelphia 76ers. Montrezl Harrell went to the Wizards in the trade package for Westbrook. Los Angeles brought back Dwight Howard, who had an important role with the 2019-20 championship team, and picked up DeAndre Jordan after the Detroit Pistons bought out his contract. L.A. hopes Jordan can provide a similar presence to that of JaVale McGee from 2019-20, so it'll be interesting to see if that happens. However, Pelinka managed to bring in two vertical threats at center.