The return of NBA action gets closer each and every day and the Los Angeles Lakers are already hard at work. With the loss of Avery Bradley for the NBA reboot, the team brought in JR Smith to fill the void. Though he hasn’t played a game in over a year, the Lakers are hoping that his shooting ability and veteran leadership will make him a strong fit.
That’s the common-sense concern, but watching him work out, both when we almost brought him in a few months back and then watching work out yesterday and today — those were the two days that he in — it’s clear that he’s done a remarkable job of keeping himself in shape and staying ready. I think this is really a great story. when you look at a guy that potentially could be out of the league, was a starter on a Finals team a couple of years back, a champion, for him to have the perseverance to stay ready to give himself this opportunity is I think to be commended. Watching him work out, hey, his nickname is “Swish” for a reason, He’s a shot-maker, a big-time shot-maker, and like I said, looks like he’s in terrific physical conditions. Like I’ve said all along, I think he’s really going to help us.
Bradley was proving to be knockdown shooter before the season was suspended so the Lakers will need Smith to hit some big shots. It remains to be seen just how big his role will be with the team but he’ll certainly get his chances.
Vogel Praises Dion Waiters
Though the Lakers signed Dion Waiters months ago, he hasn’t actually played a game with the team yet. Similar to Smith, Waiters can be a sharpshooter when he’s feeling hot.
“He shot the heck out of the ball yesterday,” Vogel said of Waiters. “He’s working extremely hard and looks really good. Like JR, both of these guys haven’t played full-contact basketball in some time, so conditioning will be a concern, but the talent is obvious.”
Los Angeles probably has bigger plans for Waiters than Smith due to the fact that he was signed before the season was suspended. Waiters has had his share of trouble in the past but he’s on a team with a lot of strong leadership. He could be an impact player for the team if he can keep his head straight.
Follow the Heavy on Lakers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Vogel Talks Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
While Waiters and Smith will probably be able to make their case to take over Bradley’s starting spot, the most likely outcome is that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets the nod. The Lakers played really well when he started over Bradley and went 17-3.
Vogel thinks Caldwell-Pope is going to play a big role for the team going forward:
KCP has been one of the brightest parts of the season. He had a terrific stretch there particularly that time where Avery was out. After a little bit of a slow start, being one of the leaders on our team in playing harder than our opponent. The hustle, the intensity, changing ends of the floor, and then the shot-making that he exhibited during that stretch and really most of our season was a huge reason for our record. You need two-way guys that play both ends of the floor. With his shot-making ability and [ability] to make plays off the bounce as well as what he brings on the defensive end, being able to put him on really anybody on the perimeter, a big part of our defensive rating and a big part of our success this year.
With Bradley not coming back, the Lakers need Caldwell-Pope to have a huge postseason.