Let there be no doubt that, around the NBA, the Lakers emerged from this summer as the talk of the league. Adding three surefire Hall of Famers will do that. And the chatter is not limited to the talking heads of the media — the Lakers have NBA players talking, too.
Count Heat star Duncan Robinson among them.
Robinson, speaking on his Long Shot podcast, twisted the question a bit but when he was asked about which team had the best offseason, he went right to the West Coast. He, like the rest of us, is very interested to see how things shake out with the newly reconstructed Lakers, who added big names like Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony, but also filled out the team with solid role players like ex-Robinson teammates Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza, plus the likes of Wayne Ellington and Malik Monk.
Here was Robinson’s take on L.A.:
I don’t know if it’s necessarily ‘best’ because I think time will tell. But the most intriguing offseason in my opinion is out West, with the Lakers. The collection of talent and experience they’ve gathered there is truly unique when you look across the league, the average age being, I think, around 32 years old. It is going to be really interesting to see how those pieces come together.
Obviously, the ones that are going to be talked about are Russ and Carmelo, but I really like the addition of Kendrick. Like, Kendrick’s an incredible plug-and-play scorer. I think Wayne Ellington has a chance to be really, really impactful, his game is perfectly fit for what they’re doing, the ability to space the floor and put stress on defenses. Malik Monk has shown he is very capable, particularly against the Miami Heat. He has filled it up in bunches against us on numerous occasions.
Lakers Overhauled the Roster This Summer
Of course, the Lakers are still anchored by two of the league’s biggest stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The pair posted good numbers last season (James averaged 25.0 points, 7.8 assists and 7.7 rebounds, while Davis scored 21.8 points with 7.9 rebounds) but each struggled to stay healthy. Davis missed 36 games, mostly because of a calf injury, and James missed 25 games, mostly with an ankle sprain.
The pair played together for most of the first 27 games of the season, before Davis left a game against the Nuggets with the calf problem in mid-February. The Lakers were 21-6 at that time, but went 21-24 for the rest of the way and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite signs that the Lakers might have been solid if they’d remained healthy, the team loaded up on new players—12 of them, with only James, Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker remaining—in the offseason.
Russell Westbrook: ‘I Want to be Able to Leave an Impact’
Westbrook is, obviously, the most important of the team’s new additions and his ability to blend in with James and Davis will be critical to the Lakers’ outlook. Westbrook has had terrific career numbers — 23.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 8.5 assists — but has not always fit in with other star players.
He has struggled to push the Thunder forward while playing alongside Kevin Durant for much of his career, and was with James Harden (in Houston) and Bradley Beal (in Washington) for the past two seasons. Neither team advanced past the conference semifinals.
“The roster’s great,” Westbrook said last month. “A bunch of guys that I’ve already known previously, which is even better. I’m always interested, as I come into the season, I’m always looking at the roster and figuring out how I can make other guys better. And it’s as simple as that. And I want to be able to leave an impact on people when they either play with me or come across me, obviously in positive way. I’ll find ways to do that with that roster. But I’m really looking forward to getting together with all the guys and figuring it out.”