The Lakers had a great offseason. They have a very new roster that has improved some of the weaknesses of last year’s roster. Two of the biggest additions are the Lakers trading for Russell Westbrook and also signing future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony.
These two are the most prolific moves by the Los Angeles Lakers and Rob Pelinka. Anthony and Westbrook are big names, but what can they bring to improve the Lakers’ basketball?
What does Carmelo Anthony bring?
Anthony brings something the Lakers missed last year on their bench and that is scoring. In this free agency, the Lakers have seen their bench improve significantly. Anthony is part of the reason for this improvement. He averaged 13.4 points in the 2020-21 season with the Portland Trail Blazers and can be an important part of the bench unit.
Last season the Lakers’ most consistent scorer on the bench was Montrezl Harrell, but he wasn’t utilized enough in the playoffs. Perhaps it was because of the match-up with the Suns or poor player management from Vogel. Either way, the Lakers needed someone who can get the ball in a variety of spots and get a bucket, Anthony is now one of the guys on the new Lakers bench that can do this.
Another important part of his game is his three-point shooting. Anthony shot 40.9% from beyond the arc last season on 4.7 attempts. That makes him another capable three-point shooter that the Lakers crucially needed. He is just a good three-point shooter, but he is a clutch shooter too.
However, don’t be surprised to see him in closing rotations because he is capable of knocking down that important shot if the ball comes his way.
Anthony is a ten-time all-star, has been selected for an All-NBA team six times, and was the 2012-13 scoring champion. He has had a great career so far and there’s only one thing missing.
One thing we know is that is determined and ready to compete for one.
“I’m coming in with a championship on my mind. I think we all know that this is the one thing that I’m missing.” Anthony said.
“This is the one thing that, it keeps me up at night, it motivates me because I don’t have it.
“I want that experience, I want to experience what it’s like going through the ups and downs of a championship season with a team.
“The turmoil, and how we come together when those things not going right.”
The 37-year-old also added that for this season a championship is “the ultimate goal, there’s nothing less of that, that’s the ultimate goal.”
What Does Russell Westbrook Bring to the Lakers?
Russell Westbrook is the biggest and most important acquisition to the Lakers roster this year.
Westbrook is one of the best point guards in the league and that is indisputable. He is a future Hall of Famer and has his name firmly etched into the history books.
If people have been skeptical about the Lakers trading for Westbrook, it has not been because he isn’t a great player. It is because they are worried about how he fits with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
These concerns are valid because he is a poor three-point shooter. For James and Davis having shooters around them benefit their game. Westbrook shot 31.5% from three this season on 4.2 attempts. He is also a career 30.5% three-point shooter.
Yes, he isn’t a good three-point shooter, but there is so much more to his game that Lakers fans should be thrilled with getting such a player.
Westbrook is a great facilitator. He has led the league in assists per game three times. The most recent assist title coming in the 2020-21 season where he averaged 11.7 assists for the Washington Wizards. The Lakers have needed another playmaker, to help James play more off-ball.
Having such a great playmaker will improve everyone on the team and reduce the dependency on James.
One of the places he will have the most impact is the bench unit. It’s not a new thing that teams struggle when James goes to the bench.
Westbrook changes that.
Especially how the Lakers have acquired shooters on their bench. Vogel will have a rotation where he can run the whole offense without James there.
In this rotation, Westbrook will thrive. He will keep the Lakers in games, grow their leads, cut leads. Having a ‘big three’ gives you the luxury of having a very strong rotation.
Of course, Westbrook also plays with intensity can give you 20 points a night. But I think think the most valuable part of his great game for the Lakers will be his playmaking.
Russell Westbrook was unexpected but can be the difference in the Lakers winning another championship.
Rob Pelinka and the front office have put the Lakers in a great position to succeed, time will tell if the team can fulfill their potential.
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