The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs in an unceremonious fashion via a first-round exit just one year after winning the franchise’s 17th championship. Their downfall — as it was all season — was injuries to multiple key players.
However, it wasn’t just the lack of health preventing the Lakers from winning. It was also shooting the ball that hindered them.
When general manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka put together the 2020-21 roster, he made shooting a focus, as the 2020 championship team struggled to shoot the ball and won in spite of it. To do so, he added Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol, Dennis Schroder — who was coming off of a career year behind the arc — and later, Ben McLemore.
All of that resulted in even worse shooting during the playoffs and an early exit. So once again, Pelinka is going back to the drawing board to get the Lakers more shooting.
“You can never have enough shooting so it’s something that’s always at the top of our mind when we’re building and constructing a roster. I think it’s important too, part of successful shooting is having special players that create the shooting space and for us, that comes primarily from LeBron and Anthony.
“You bring up this series, but when you take someone like Anthony out of some of the games, it changes the spacing and shooting success and everyone knows, LeBron talked about it last night, we knew when he had a high ankle sprain that it would probably not be until the offseason that got 100%. But I think that the success of our shooting is driven by those guys creating the space and because of the things we face with injuries, some of that space is altered.”
Simply put, Pelinka is going to go after more shooters in free agency or trades. However, he also said that getting LeBron James and Anthony Davis healthy remains atop the priority list as well. “But I will say, one of our top priorities this summer has to be, I view the role of any organization, front office, coaching staff, is to be a role of support and we have to pour all we can resource-wise into helping LeBron finalize getting through the end of his high ankle sprain and then Anthony Davis, of course, the injuries he faced.
“Whatever we can bring to the table as an organization to help those guys return to 100%, that’s gonna be a ton of our energy over the coming weeks. We know that those guys are both two of the top two-way players in the world and will continue to be and we have to provide all the resources with them to keep them healthy and help them operate at the highest level and that will be a big focus for us as well.”
Getting James and Davis fully healthy will completely change the complexion of the team even if they only make moves on the fringes otherwise. Bringing back almost the entire roster, getting James and Davis healthy, then adding maybe one or two more shooters, is probably all the Lakers need to do to contend again.
However, there is also a chance the Lakers make significant moves, even if they aren’t hinting at that right now. Things can change very quickly during the NBA offseason, so fans will have to be prepared for anything and everything.
Davis wants to run it back but understands change may come
Like the rest of the team — and maybe even Pelinka — Davis is hopeful that the Lakers can run things back with a very similar roster. However, Davis recalled wanting that in 2020 as well, but understanding that it simply isn’t the way things work sometimes.
“Hopefully, but that’s each guy’s decision,” Davis said. “We wanted the same thing last year. It don’t work that way. Guys look out for themselves and their families and do what they think is best for them and you can do nothing but respect it.”
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