Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers earned plenty of criticism for their decision to surround LeBron James with playmakers instead of shooters. Then-Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson initially thought that his strategy would give James a better chance of beating the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series. However, in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers weren’t even given the opportunity to face the Warriors in the postseason as they failed to earn a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference.
Luckily, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka quickly learned from their past mistakes and started building the roster around LeBron James the right way. After a series of trades and free-agency signings, Jared Dubin of FiveThirtyEight believes that the Lakers’ roster for the 2019-20 NBA season resembles the squad that enabled James to put the Eastern Conference under his rule for eight straight years.
“So although it’s lacking a third star and is not loaded up with recent lottery picks, this team now resembles the title-contending James squads of the recent past more closely than last year’s did. There’s James, of course, and another surefire All-Star in Davis. There’s also enough shooting to space the floor around that duo, and presumably to bring a LeBron-led team back into the league’s top 10 in offensive rating.”
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) July 16, 2019
During his combined stints with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James found success when he was surrounded by shooters. Sharing the floor with legitimate three-point threats makes it easier for James to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when he’s trapped by an opposing team’s defense. The Lakers may have failed to add a third superstar alongside James and Anthony Davis, but they still managed to fill their roster with quality players whom they believe could help them fully dominate the Western Conference and win the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season.
After Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2019 NBA free agency, the Lakers used their salary cap space to sign DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley, Troy Daniels, and Avery Bradley. The Lakers also decided to bring back some of their own free agents like Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Jared Dudley.
Dubin expressed some concerns that the Lakers may struggle on the defensive end of the floor next season, citing LeBron James’ lax attitude toward regular-season defense and the lack of rim protection. However, it’s worth noting that aside from their ability to space the floor, some of the players that the Lakers signed this summer have earned a good reputation with their defense, including Danny Green and Avery Bradley, who are incredible perimeter defenders, and shot-blocking big men DeMarcus Cousins and JaVale McGee.