This current offseason is crucial to not only how the Lakers will perform this upcoming season but in determining how the franchise operates in the future as well. After losing their top target in free agency, the Lakers’ front office wanted to put together a competitive roster that would bring their salary cap down, while not interfering with their potential offseason plans in 2014 and 2015.
Last week, our roundtable writers graded the offseason signings by the front office thus far of Jordan Farmer, Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Wesley Johnson. This week we are going to tackle which of those players will help the Lakers the most next season. Here’s what they had to say:
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): I actually took to Twitter and posed this question about a week ago, and most responses I got were in favor of Nick Young. I’m inclined to agree with this simply because I’ve been stressing since last season the necessity to find a solid backup to Kobe Bryant who can create his own shot and defend. While Young isn’t known as a great defender, he can certainly score and is athletic enough to be effective on defense, if he exerts himself on that end of the floor.
Similarly, if Kobe has to miss some time while recovering from his injury, Young has a scorer’s mentality just like the Black Mamba. Although his production has taken a hit over the last few years, at 28 and with a chip on his shoulder, perhaps Young could display some of the prolific scoring he showed in 2011 when he averaged 17.4 points.
Nonetheless, the Lakers have had problems with players not named Kobe Bryant being able to create offense for themselves (other than Steve Nash, who was limited last season due to injury), and Young will certainly help cure that.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Of the three new faces on the squad, and one familiar face from the past, only two will truly standout for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2013-14 NBA season.
The popular choice for the player that will help the Lakers most next season will likely be Nick Young. With Young, the Lakers bring in instant offense off the bench and are able to finally go younger with a player that chose to take a pay cut in order to play for this storied franchise. Young will be one of the few players on the Lakers that will be able to create his own shot, but I believe he won’t be the free agent acquisition that will help this team the most moving forward.
Chris Kaman also chose to come to Los Angeles on the cheap and may be the biggest signing of the offseason for the Lakers.
With Kaman replacing Dwight Howard in the paint, the Lakers will have a second big man, along with Pau Gasol, that sticks to the fundamentals and can be a force on both ends of the floor. Yes, Kaman has had his injury problems in the past and that may very well flare up once again in Los Angeles, but when healthy and engaged, the veteran center can play at an All-Star-caliber level.
Kaman, Gasol and Jordan Hill will likely become an intimidating frontcourt in the Western Conference as long as everyone keeps up in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system while staying healthy throughout the season. Although Kaman is past his prime and no longer the player of old, the one-time All-Star may surprise some people next season with extended time of the floor with Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash running the show.
Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): My answer is Nick Young. The Lakers have been labeled “old” and “slow” in the past few seasons, and they are in desperate need of some young legs. Young, 28, is approaching the prime of his career, and he is a player that is instant offense whether he starts or comes off the bench. Over the years we have seen just how explosive Young can be, with the best example being his clutch play for the Clippers in the 2012 Playoffs.
The Lakers can definitely use another player that can create his own shot, and Young is the right candidate for that job. Often times, Los Angeles relied way too much on Kobe Bryant to score, but Young is someone who can take some of that burden off Bryant’s shoulders.
Although the additions of Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar will provide great back up support for Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, Young will carry more responsibility this upcoming season. At this point it is unclear if Kaman will start alongside Gasol, but there is little doubt that Young will not be in the starting five on opening night.
The Lakers are expecting a lot of out Young and if he can produce at a consistent rate, the team will have a lethal combination in Young and Bryant.
Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): I have to go with Nick Young on this one. I think the Lakers have done a solid job with their offseason signings so far, as reflective of my B- grading in last week’s roundtable. Now, for Nick Young in particular, he isn’t the perfect, all-around player that is desired by every coach and every team, but he does provide the Lakers with some much-needed necessities.
First, Nick Young is athletic, and we all know the Lakers can use as much athleticism as possible. Check out his Drew League highlights to see some of his athleticism in action. Second, Young can create his own shot. Too often last season, it seemed as though Kobe Bryant was the only Laker on the court who could generate his own offense when necessary. Third, he is a solid perimeter shooter (career three-point percentage of 37.4).
While Young is not known for his defense, his quickness and athleticism could help with his defense, if taught in the right way (hopefully by Kurt Rambis). I think Young’s game will play well in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system, which would hopefully be seen immediately.
While I believe the other signees of Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson are going to have crucial roles off the bench this season, I think Nick Young can have a standout role for the Lakers.
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