Chris Camello: If there was one ex-Laker I would love to have back, it would be former point guard Nick Van Exel. He was with the Lakers from 1993 to 1998 and averaged 15 points and seven assists during those seasons. Even though he had numerous issues with teammates and coaches during his tenure with the Lakers, Nick “The Quick” was actually a unique combination of skill and explosiveness. These are traits commonly seen among most point guards in the NBA today.
Van Exel could flourish in D’Antoni’s free-flowing offense and help trigger a fast break more quickly than Steve Nash. Remember, he never liked Del Harris’s slower, half court offense. Even though Nash is a better shooter and definitely a better teammate, Van Exel would work better with this current Lakers roster with younger and faster guys. He would provide more speed and athleticism and make opposing point guards work hard defensively every night. He may not be a defensive stopper, but he could certainly offset elite point guards like Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, and Chris Paul.
Most importantly, Van Exel makes this Lakers team more exciting to watch even though he doesn’t necessarily make them a title contender. If he can get rid of the negative attitude and learn how to co-exist with other stars like Kobe Bryant (whom he never seemed to like when Bryant was a rookie) and Pau Gasol, the Lakers could be a more successful team during the 2013-2014 campaign.
Sergio Gomez: If there was one Laker that can come back a play with this year’s team, I think that with Mike D’Antoni at the helm, Big Shot Rob would fit perfectly in the rotation.
D’Antoni’s system is based on perimeter shooting and was the most clutch shooter in Lakers history, which would be Robert Horry. When the Lakers were in need of a big shot, Horry lived up to his nickname and always delivered.
The Lakers already have a point guard in Steve Nash and of course Kobe at the two-guard and with Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill or Chris Kaman down at the rim, Horry would be the outside option that D’Antoni loves.
The problem with the Lakers last year was that there weren’t many shooters for D’Antoni to utilize as his system did not fit the roster, well with the Lakers bringing in shooters this year, Horry would be a great addition as he would come in with that clutch gene and winning attitude. He brings passion and heart to the team that the Lakers lacked when Kobe went down. With Kobe’s intensity coming back, Horry will be able to add to that passion while bringing out that attitude from the rest of the team.
Corey Hansford: The Lakers have so many options it’s a difficult decision to make. In the end, I have to go with Elgin Baylor. It comes down to what the Lakers need most. The small forward position is the one most up for grabs so Baylor can slide right in. He is also one of the most prolific scorers of all-time so he can carry the load when Kobe isn’t able. He was one of the first truly great athletes in the NBA and was more than an adequate defender.
Baylor was also an amazing rebounder in his years so his addition to the front line would help Gasol and Hill as well. He was an outstanding shooter, giving Nash another option to swing the ball through. His insertion in the starting lineup would also allow Nick Young to come off the bench giving the Lakers a big time scorer off the bench as well.
This spot could have easily gone to someone like James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, or Wilt Chamberlain, but in the end, Elgin Baylor fits in best with the team, the system, and would give the Lakers, as a whole, the most flexibility going forward into a season which no one knows what to expect.
Vince Samperio: The Lakers could use a tough, hard-nosed rebounder on this year’s team. The Lakers lack a gritty, high-energy player that could get under the skin of the opposing team and do the little things that you do not see in the box score. After the departure of Metta World Peace, the Lakers lost the player they could count on for toughness. I believe the 2013-14 Lakers should bring back a former Laker that was not a Laker for long. Dennis Rodman could be a welcome addition to this year’s squad.
He would not bring much offensively, but would provide the presence on the block needed for a team in a Mike D’Antoni offense. Besides the toughness and rebounding, Rodman would bring the energy that the other players could feed off of. It may seem like an unorthodox choice, but the Lakers should be decent on the offensive side with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Nick Young. They need rebounding to extend plays on the offense, while cutting possessions on the defensive side. The energy and toughness would give the Lakers a different dimension that hopefully could be taken on by the rest of the team and create an “us against the world” vibe.
Kevin Sun: If I had the power to bring back any ex-Laker at their prime, I would bring back Mr. Basketball himself Jerry West. I think he would fit D’Antoni’s system perfectly because he was a terrific shooter and passer. He shot for an astonishing 47.4 percent for his career from the field and we can’t account for how many of those were three-pointers. He also had over 6000 assists over his career, but one of the main reasons I would bring him back is to see if Mr. West could play at that level in the current NBA season where many believe it to be more athletic and faster pace.
I believe Jerry West and Kobe would’ve made a devastating duo as West and Baylor did for the Lakers. Kobe would trust Jerry West with the ball and could relieve some of the scoring duties to West as West once averaged 46 points per game in a playoff series. No one would be happier than an aging Steve Nash to back up one of the all time greats and really give a quality 10-15 minutes off the bench. Another beneficiary of West would be the great Spaniard Pau Gasol. I could only imagine what the team could do with all that great passing with Nick Young on the wing alongside a recovering Kobe. The only problem the Lakers would have would be first world problems such as who would take the last shot with the game on the line? Kobe, or Mr. Clutch himself.
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