Do Recent Roster Upgrades Make the Lakers Unbeatable?

Following an unprecedented finish to the 2019-20 season, the Lakers came away champions giving LeBron James his fourth ring. Despite their success in winning a championship, Rob Pelinka took every opportunity to upgrade the roster and ran with it. One of the biggest struggles of the Lakers a year ago was the lack of a reliable third scorer besides Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Running an offense around one playmaker at times caused the Lakers to allow teams back into the game.

Dennis Schroder Trade

Adding Dennis Schroder for Danny Green and the 28th overall pick was a trade that was a no brainer. After losing Rajon Rondo to Atlanta in free agency, who better to command the starting lineup than the runner up in Sixth Man of the Year? Coming off a season where he averaged 18.9 points and 4.0 assists on 46.9% from the field and 38.5% from three, Schroder would fit effortlessly alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James. His impact has been seen instantly, posting 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists in his debut versus the Clippers.

Signing Montrezl Harrell

Another big-time acquisition made by the Lakers front office following the season was signing reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell from the rival Clippers. Displeased with his inability to space the floor and guard the four or five at an elite level, the Clippers decided to pay Luke Kennard and Marcus Morris before Harrell, who gladly signed with the Lakers instead. After averaging 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks off the bench last year, the Lakers saw an advantage to really upgrade their depth. Harrell remains in the sixth man role on the Lakers and has been a nightmare for opposing defenses to worry about. The lineup with Harrell and Davis forces a big man to guard a much faster player who is knockdown from the mid-range giving them an instant mismatch. Harrell’s impact was shown on Christmas Day against the Mavericks where he posted 22 points and 7 rebounds on 10 of 13 shooting from the floor.

Rounding out the Roster

After the major two moves made, the Lakers still needed to replace JaVale McGee and Danny Green in the rotation. Wesley Matthews was signed from the Bucks to take over Danny Green’s three and D role, while Marc Gasol was signed as the big man for the starting lineup. Maybe the most underrated move of the offseason, the change from McGee to Gasol gives the Lakers a fantastic break starter who can space the floor. While Gasol is no longer as elite of a rim protector as McGee is, Gasol’s ability to jump start the break allows the Lakers to get out and run, a playstyle that makes them almost unbeatable.

Surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis with shooters and playmakers is a blueprint to offensive dominance. With Schroder nearing an extension along with Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope receiving extensions, the Lakers have their core set for the next three years, having championship or bust expectations every year. Following a 2-1 start including two blowout wins over the Mavericks and Timberwolves, expect another deep playoff run for the purple  and gold come summertime.

 

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