Raised in Atlanta but born in L.A., I’m prepared to have my heart broken about these DeRozan rumors. But hope is a good color on me, right? Even though this Kobe farewell tour is more of a sideshow to Curry’s headliner, like a good fan, I’m more focused on the Lakers future and how they could best prepare for “DeMarrow” (yeah, that was a stretch). Remember, they still have two first round picks, a pair of pogo sticks for a rookie, a former 6th man of the year, a little bit of “swag,” and possible star in Clarkson. There is still potential for a decent future. So I’m going to lay out a plan for now and the offseason because I’m totally Jimmy Buss.
Disclaimer: I am assuming that not only do the Lakers get DeRozan, but Jimmy Buss also loses control of the team to his sister.
- Let the children play: I know what you’re saying, “don’t let Larry Nance, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and D’Angelo Russell all play at least 20 min per game”. That’s not what I mean. How many of those minutes are they sharing with Kobe or Lou Williams? Those two take up roughly 27 shot attempts per game. Randle, Russell, and Nance combine for 25 attempts. Kobe is averaging fewer assists than he’s ever had since the 90’s. Also, Randle is the only rookie that has a lower FG% than the trigger happy veterans. My point is that the young guns need more touches. Play all four of them with Anthony Brown at the three more often. Yes, their shooting percentages are probably this high because defenses aren’t focusing on them, but that’s the point. They need to learn how to be effective when there is a target on their back because that’s where the bullseye is heading anyway.
- It’s okay to lose out on the Simmons sweepstakes: When the Sixers finally find the trampoline at the floor of the NBA that springs them to relevance; call me. I really, REALLY disagree with the idea of tanking for more than a year. It can give young players bad habits that would take too much work to drop. Are we hurting for productive small forwards? Yes, but that’s what DeRozen is for (I know he’s a 2 but as Jimmy Buss, I’ve made the executive decision to move him). Plus, more than a few good forwards are coming through the draft and free agency and the Lakers seem to have enough cash to sign them. Also, it’s a lottery; there is no telling what pick we’ll get.
- So let’s address some chemistry issues and get some winning habits. At this age, Kobe should never play the SF role. If Williams and Kobe are on the floor at the same time, play Brown or Young at the three, not Russell or Clarkson at the point. Brandon Bass is a power forward, not a center. Instead, let Nance use his athleticism to be a 4/5 combo. That’s just a start.
- Get the productivity back in Swaggy’s “P”: Young’s numbers have fallen off and I can’t figure out if that’s via scheme or age. To sort this out, here is a lineup that I want to see get minutes: 1) Russell, 2) Clarkson, 3) Young, 4) Randell, and 5) Nance. Yes, run him with the kids. There should be enough passing, picks, and spacing for Young to get off on some nice “iso” opportunities. If he still can’t produce, add a backup SF to the summer shopping list. The idea is that the future Lakers lineup should be full of young starters and veteran benchmen.
- Players aren’t “D” answer, schemes are: The Lakers need to stop thinking that the answer to our defensive woes is to add a specialist and stir. Yes, a hustler with an aptitude for impeding others is useful but, as you can see with Roy Hibbert and Metta World Peace, they need them to not be an offensive liability as well. There is a growing trend in the NBA of teams turning their best offensive weapon into their greatest defensive threat. For more information, see Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard at work. In the offseason, I would like to see L.A. hire a Tom Thibodeau, or a Mark Jackson as head coach to get some semblance of a defensive scheme together. I could see Larry Nance flourishing in such an environment. He’s definitely got the physical gifts for it.
Are the Lakers going to do any of this for the remainder of the season and offseason? No. Will they get DeMar? Probably not. The Lakers are most likely going to be bad for a few more years, but there is one silver lining. Flying in from the golden sunrise in her purple cape is Jeanie Buss to take control of the team. I don’t know if she can fix the franchise, but if anybody has the heart and brains to do so, it would be her.