With the news on Sunday that the Olympics would likely be adding a 3-on-3 basketball competition to the 2020 games, the wheels started turning and I started wondering what the best Laker three-man team would look like.
To liven up the discussion and add some variety, you can only use each player once. We all know that, with as storied as the Lakers’ franchise is, every Laker 3-on-3 team would start with Magic Johnson.
However, there’s lot of fun possibilities here, mixing up many generations of Laker talent. Here’s five of the best teams the Lakers could assemble.
5. D’Angelo Russell – Brandon Ingram – Julius Randle
I know, I know. I’m starting with current players. But these are the only current Lakers on the team and, honestly, it’s hard not to envision how good this team is and would be.
All three players are versatile, all three can handle the ball and, in reality, this team would be ridiculously good in a 3-on-3 game.
Russell can shoot or post-up, Randle can rebound and be a bully down low and Ingram would do all of the little things as well as be another ball-handler.
4. Nick Van Exel – Eddie Jones – Pau Gasol
Between the era of Showtime and the Kobe-Shaq dynasty, there was the oft-overlooked Van Exel and Jones years. The duo were exciting and made the Lakers watchable despite not being much of a title contender.
Both guards could drive and shoot, which makes them perfect complements for a big man like Gasol who is one of the best passing big men in NBA history and has a large repertoire of post moves. Imagine tossing it into Gasol and have two cutters run off him while he posts up.
3. Derek Fisher – James Worthy – Shaq
I have always argued and will always argue that, in his prime, there was no player as physically dominant in NBA history as Shaq was. When motivated, which usually wasn’t until the playoffs, O’Neal was absolutely unstoppable.
The best team to put around him is one that can space the floor. Fisher is one of the best role players in Lakers history and can spot up. Worthy, meanwhile, was a player who would flourish in the current age of the NBA as a stretch forward.
This team could keep the floor spaced for Shaq, who would annihilate whoever was in front of him.
2. Jerry West – Elgin Baylor – Lamar Odom
Listen, it might be a bit of a surprise to see Lamar Odom here, but there’s hardly a player more perfectly-suited for a game of 3-on-3 than Odom. His size and handles would make him a nightmare for teams.
And that’s not even mentioning the two best players on the team, West and Baylor. Their pedigree speaks for itself in the 60s and 70s. West and Baylor are not only two of the best Lakers, but arguably one of the best duos in the team’s history.
This three-man group would be a nightmare to slow down. Any big man would be eaten alive and most of the guards would be, too. Imagine a pick-and-pop with Lamar and either other player.
1. Magic Johnson – Kobe Bryant – Wilt Chamberlain
In reality, all three of these guys were obvious choices. Magic and Bryant are the two greatest Lakers of all-time and two perfect players for a 3-on-3 game. Wilt Chamberlain, meanwhile, is one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game and he just so happened to be a 7-footer.
Seriously, there’s no way to stop this team. You could try to go big to stop their size, but Kobe and Magic could blow by players and size never bothered Wilt. You could try to go small and die a quick death to Chamberlain scoring at will or Magic and Kobe posting up.
Imagine a Magic-Wilt pick-and-roll. Imagine a Kobe-Wilt pick-and-roll. Imagine stopping this team at all. You can’t, because you couldn’t.