After making their big splash in free agency by signing LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers then filled out their roster by adding veterans Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley to the fold.
While the Lakers have been developing their young core over the last five seasons, the focus has quickly changed to being championship contenders for the 2018-19 NBA season and beyond. It would be success last seen when Kobe Bryant was leading the team to titles.
Of course, Bryant won five championships in his 20 seasons with the Lakers, but the final chapter of his career was filled with season-ending injuries and the worst stretch in franchise history.
With James ushering in a new era, the 40-year-old Bryant likes how president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have built the Lakers roster, via Extra TV:
“I think they’re building the team smartly. They’re building strong, physical players that play the game with pace and are basketball players. What I mean by that is they don’t have players that are one-dimensional. They have players that can handle the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball, defend the ball. So when you’re building a team with that kind of versatility and physicality, that’s something that can challenge Golden State. ‘Cause you can’t beat Golden State by playing Golden State-style. That’s just not going to happen.”
As the Golden State Warriors are trying to win their fourth championship in five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, the Lakers have taken a unique path. Instead of trying to outshoot them like the Houston Rockets, Johnson and Pelinka have surrounded James with tough-minded playmakers like Rondo and Stephenson.
Since James has won three championships in eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances surrounded by shooters, the Lakers have received criticism for their signings after him. They stand by the approach and will see their put to the test early when they play the Houston Rockets in their home opener on Oct. 20.
Heading into the new season, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Lakers. With new players and different personalities, they will have to quickly learn how to play together as the Western Conference is more competitive than ever.