The Los Angeles Lakers suffered an unceremonious exit from the 2021 NBA playoffs as injuries became their demise after a season filled with bad injury luck. Anthony Davis simply couldn’t stay on the floor for long without getting hurt, and LeBron James was not operating near 100% of his strength.
However, former Lakers superstar and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson believes that the Lakers’ failures went beyond just injuries. Of course, injuries played a factor in his mind, but the Lakers’ loss also had to do with poor roster construction and incorrect roles being played by James and Davis.
He gave his thoughts on how he would fix the Lakers and what James and Davis would need to do to be a part of that fix, via KJZ on ESPN:
“Give LeBron [James] and [Anthony Davis] a shooter. And also, tell AD he’s going to have to play more center now. You can’t allow him to say, ‘Hey man I don’t want to play center.’ No no no no no, first of all you’re with the Lakers and we’re trying to win. And for me, I would move LeBron back down, we’re asking him to do too much. You can’t ask LeBron to be the point guard. That means you’re working hard, you’re bringing the ball up, getting everybody into the offense, so when can LeBron rest? You have to understand we want LeBron fresh for the playoffs. So let somebody else bring it to him.”
Johnson has not been a part of the Lakers organization or any organization for a couple of years now and things didn’t go particularly well at all during his tenure. Even in this rant, he says things that — while technically true — are already being discussed and practiced within the Lakers.
It’s well documented at this point that the Lakers are better when Anthony Davis plays the center position. However, the reason he doesn’t play it more often is the same reason Johnson wants James to not be the point guard anymore. The Lakers are trying to preserve Davis for the playoffs when it matters most.
As for getting James a point guard to help preserve him, the Lakers tried that with Dennis Schroder. And while he may not have been the perfect guy for the job, he was the best player available at the position during the 2020 offseason.
Simply put, the Lakers are aware of everything they need to do to fix the roster for the 2021-22 season. Now, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together.
Lakers among favorites to land Ben Simmons
If the Lakers desperately want a guy who can get James off ball a little bit more, perhaps they can turn to troubled point guard Ben Simmons, whose time may be up with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Lakers are among the betting favorites to land Simmons, but would need the 76ers to sell very low on a player who once had superstar aspirations.
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