Pivotal Summer for Lakers

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latinopost.com

The Lakers are not really so far removed from the lofty heights of championship glory. It seems like forever, but it was only 2010 when they last led that parade. Then they experienced two second round knockouts in 2011 and 2012 followed by being unceremoniously swept in 2013. 2014 and 2015 entered the dark ages.

But missing the playoffs is missing the playoffs whether you miss by a few games or you are the conference cellar dweller. The Lakers have missed the playoffs before. They’ve been here before. See post Magic Johnson. See post Shaq trade. The common denominator is that the Lakers bounce back quicker than most teams (see Knicks and 76ers). I expect this to be no different.

The one reason I see this is based on the very fact that NBA teams can be transformed by only a few players. As bad as the Lakers were they only need a few players. Exhibit A: Miami Heat loses LeBron James and does not make the playoffs. Exhibit B: Cavs gain LeBron James and adds Mosgov and Love and enter the finals. Exhibit C: Thunder lose Durant and Westbrook to injury and flat out suck the first half of the season.

Next, we know Lakers have a very important #2 pick in the draft and plenty of cap space to attempt to secure a max player and or some solid contributors.

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Nba.com

Lastly, the Lakers possess a young, talented and hungry core and an older but very hungry Black Mamba that only needs but a few true go-to guys that were severely missed during crucial moments in the game last year. We have all-rookie first teamer Jordan Clarkson and a healthy Julius Randle, along with shooter Jabari Brown and forward/center Tarik Black.

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Bleacherreport.com

Pick that argument apart all you want, Lakershaters and pessimistic Lakers fans.

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With all that in mind, we approach a summer that potentially can see a major team upgrade. There are proven game changers like Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic and a Kevin Love among others in free agency. There are potential future all-stars in this year’s draft like Jahlil Okafor, D’angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay (Townes going to Minnesota seems like a forgone conclusion). The Lakers have an additional 2 picks deeper in the draft. There are quite a few scenarios that can immediately set this team on a course towards NBA relevance.

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The glaring weakness the Lakers would like to address is their hole in the middle. The NBA mercilessly pounded L.A. on the glass last year and they were outsized all season long. This affects every move they make this summer. Supposing they go with the obvious choice of Okafor or Townes (90% sure it’s Okafor) they now have to consider who the best player is to court in free agency. Kevin Love could be a good coupling for a formidable offensive frontline. Randle would most likely come off the bench as he continues to develop. They would still have to address the small forward issue and point guard depth. I believe Clarkson is on his way to greatness. Lastly they would have to decide who to keep from last year. But now you’ve already added two potential game changers.

Supposing Lakers go small and take a chance on Russell or Mudiay, Clarkson slides over to the two. I’d recommend Kobe moving to the three. Randle takes the four. Now the Lakers have to make a play for Gasol or Deandre. Pairing a dominant center with Randle and also giving Russell or Mudiay a target in the post is money! I feel like Love is a strong candidate to head to L.A. but then the Lakers would still be severely undersized if they cannot get a true center. They would still be considerably improved at this point.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of scenarios by any stretch. You consider that Lakers have Rajon Rondo in the mix. They still have decisions to make regarding Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill, Nick Young and Ed Davis. All of which I think we should keep except Hill. (He’s costly and is one PF too many.)

Needless to say, the Lakers are in a good position to make a push in the direction towards competitiveness and subsequent dominance. This summer will be one of the most pivotal in Lakers history, starting with the draft.

I expect greatness of course. I’m The Lakers Optimist.

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