It may have taken a little bit longer than expected, but the Los Angeles Lakers finally got LeBron James his long awaited co-superstar in Anthony Davis. While it costed them three of their core young players, the Lakers are in win-now mode and I doubt any of the Lakers faithful are upset about landing the best big man in basketball.
Now listed as the favorites to win the Larry O’Brien trophy according to Vegas, the lofty expectations and high pressure is on the 2019-2020 Lakers. They wouldn’t want it any other way.
After holding on through the entire Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka took a more tactical and logical approach than last season. He did his due diligence in trying to establish a big three with Leonard in the mix but did not hesitate to fill his roster once the decision was made by Leonard.
Bringing in former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins will now give the Lakers a formidable big three. Assuming Boogie can stay healthy and he and AD can return to their prior dominance that existed in New Orleans, the rest of the NBA is in for a world of hurt.
But where are the shooters?
Have no fear, Pelinka’s checkbook is here. The Lakers went on a spending spree this off-season and signed a bevy of marksmen including: Danny Green, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, and Quinn Cook. All who shot above 35% from three last season.
Pivotal in rounding out the roster was the Lakers bringing back players such as: Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso.
Having Rondo return was essential due to the amount of talent that resides on the roster and needing a facilitator outside of LeBron who can provide that. Oh, and if you can do this to the hated Celtics, that helps too.
Rondo called GAME! pic.twitter.com/rHD3AwgQyx
— Lakers Lair (@LakersLair) February 8, 2019
At center, McGee can spell Cousins which is never a bad option. McGee finished fifth in the NBA in blocks per game with 2.0. If Cousins gets into foul trouble or needs rest, the Lakers front court will be a nightmare to score on for opposing teams with Davis and McGee being elite level rim protectors.
With rumors about the Lakers wanting to start LeBron at point guard next season, it offers great intrigue into predicting who will start alongside him. Here is what a possible line-up may look like:
PG: LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso
SG: Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels, Talen Horton-Tucker
SF: Kyle Kuzma, Jared Dudley
PF: Anthony Davis, Devontae Cacok
C: DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee
While, it may be new to see LeBron start at the point instead of his designated position at small forward, there is good reason to believe how it will work. Here is why.
With Danny Green coming off a career-high best 45.5% from three, the Lakers need a reliable perimeter threat in the starting line-up. Both Green and Kuzma can provide that on the wings.
Starting in the front-court, the paring of Davis and Cousins is almost impossible to not give a shot to at least to begin.
McGee could start a few games in place of Cousins, but the penciled in center should be Boogie. Kuzma can slot back to his listed power forward position at any time, so in the above listed rotation there should be no concern as to not having a premier back-up to Davis. (Although Cacok will be a very high energy back-up if he’s awarded some PT)
There could be a situation where head coach Frank Vogel may want to throw Davis in at center and play Kuzma at the four, LeBron at his natural position, Green staying put, and Rondo starting at point. However, Davis has expressed that he is more comfortable playing at power forward rather than at center.
The depth behind these starters is much more deep than last year as they can roll out a small ball bunch that includes Rondo or Quinn at the point, Bradley and KCP on the wings, Dudley at the four, and McGee as the defensive anchor.
There is no more rebuilding and no more patience left in Los Angeles. They are primed for a deep playoff run and will settle for nothing less. In the words of Pelinka, “Anything short of a championship is not success.”