Why the Lakers are One of the Worst Constructed Rosters in the NBA

Story posted March 15, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by David Saggio

The Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most recognizable franchises in all of professional sports, made headlines this past NBA offseason with their signing of NBA superstar Lebron James. With the signing of James many thought the Lakers would finally pull themselves out of the basement of the NBA, end their playoff drought and return to their former glory of being perennial contenders in the NBA. All seemed right for team president and Laker legend Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.

Fast forward to March of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers currently sit at a 31-36 record, good for 11th in the Western conference. In reaching this record the Lakers have dealt with numerous injuries, media scrutiny and a chaotic and reportedly divided locker room. How did they end up here you may ask? Well to put it simply, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the worst constructed rosters in the NBA.

For starters one needs to understand the play style of Lebron James. The “King," is known for his unique blend of size and freakish athleticism, with Lebron standing at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, he uses every inch and pound to drive to the rim and simply overpower his opponents. Often described as a “freight train” going to the rim, Lebron is also blessed with a tremendous basketball IQ and skills to complement his physical attributes. As a result of his legendary inside scoring ability Lebron has developed amazing play making skills, with him being able to find cutting teammates and open shooters and provide tremendous kickout passes to them for easy scoring opportunities.

With how the league has shifted to three-point shooting Lebron’s style of play adapted tremendously and surrounding him with a roster of shooters proved to be a deadly strategy as teams would have to pick which way Lebron was going to attack them. This can be seen in the roster of the 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers, who were NBA champions. The 15-16 Cavs surrounded Lebron with 3-point shooters, with the team shooting a deadly 36 percent from three. With JR Smith, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and others combing to make one of the best constructed championship supporting casts the league has seen.

Back to Lebron’s current situation on the Lakers. The Lakers currently sit at second to last in three-point percentage in the NBA, shooting and abysmal 33.4 percent from deep. It’s not as if the Lakers didn’t have shooters either, with dead eye three-point shooting center Brook Lopez being a free agent they allowed to walk. Lopez is currently lighting it up for the Eastern conference leading Milwaukee Bucks, shooting a tremendous 36% from three as a seven-foot center. Combine the non pursual of Lopez with the signing of pass first point Rajon Rondo, who is a career 31 percent shooter from three, and the signing shooting guard Lance Stephenson who also only shoots 31 percent from 3 and you have a recipe for disaster.

The Lakers are also not well constructed due to their extreme youth, with the likes of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma getting a majority of the minutes, although Ball is going to miss the remainder of the season after injuring his ankle in January. All these players are good in their own right but due to their youth and average shooting ability they do not allow for a particularly good championship roster, with the idea being to construct a roster that fits and plays well around Lebron. Additionaly, the Lakers also created a media fiasco with their pursuit of disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans superstar forward Anthony Davis. With the likes of Lonzo, Ingram and Kuzma all being linked to possible trades for Davis a skid occurred and the young Lakers were clearly very out of it and distraught.

All in all the Lakers will be sitting at home come NBA playoffs time, which crazily enough means Lebron James will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 NBA season. This colossal failure rests solely on the shoulders of Pelinka and Johnson who put together this fiasco of a roster. They had one job, and that was to construct a team around one of the greatest players of all time in Lebron James. They failed that job miserably.

 

 

David Saggio is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him email davesag12@gmail.com.