Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka moved very quickly to fill out the roster surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis after Kawhi Leonard’s decision.
All three had high and low points last season, but each brings something different to the table. Most importantly, team chemistry was a factor — at least in the eyes of Pelinka.
“I think chemistry is everything and you have to look at the whole picture,” Pelinka noted during a conference call. “It’s almost like the spokes on a wheel; you can’t just focus on one spoke and see that the wheel is going to work. The way that those players in particular fit with the other pieces makes sense. That’s just chemistry in sports.”
Chemistry is undoubtedly very important in all of sports throughout history. There are plenty of examples of teams with lesser talent overcoming more star-studded teams because all of the pieces fit better. Pelinka sees these players fitting in well on the Lakers and all of them bring something different.
Pelinka harkened back to Rondo’s time with Davis and DeMarcus Cousins with the New Orleans Pelicanns Pelicans. “With Rondo in particular, the success he had with Boogie and A.D. in New Orleans, replicating that is exciting.” That team made a run to conference semifinals and the team’s hopes for the 2019-20 season are even higher.
Pelinka also focused on the solid season McGee provided last year. “JaVale had some really great stretches for us before he got pneumonia and was really on the shelf for a couple months. He’s just so elite at protecting the rim and adds that ingredient to us that we’re excited about.”
McGee was an elite rim protector, finishing fifth in the league in blocks and even getting some early Defensive Player of the Year award buzz. His bout with pneumonia undoubtedly put a damper on things, but he ended Year 1 well and could remain a starter if the Lakers prefer his defense and rim protection.
Caldwell-Pope has been one of the more polarizing Lakers over the last couple of seasons as Pelinka remains extremely positive on him and what he brings to the team.
“He started being able to finish more at the rim and was scoring at a high clip the last two-three months of the season. Again, we just like his 3-and-D mentality. When he combines his defensive presence with guys like Avery Bradley and Danny Green, we think we can have a lockdown defense on the perimeter and he’s a big part of that.”
Caldwell-Pope definitely ended Year 2 well, averaging 23.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the last five games of the season. One of the biggest questions coming into this season for the Lakers is their ability to defend point guards and he is potentially their best option at doing so.
The best teams usually consist of All-Star players and then proper role players surrounding them. In these re-signings, Pelinka believes he has put the ideal players around James and Davis.