Lakers Logic is back! I apologize for the delay, but this topic should make up for it. If you could take any of the Lakers players in their prime and forge a starting five, who would make the cut?
The only answer here is Magic Johnson. The Lakers have never had another point guard who could do the things he did when he was on the court. Magic in his prime? There’s no way he doesn’t make any starting line up in my mind. No matter who he was playing with, he made them better and that’s exactly what you want at that position. Sorry, Mr. West.
Let’s just go ahead and get Kobe Bryant out of the way here. His work ethic surpasses that of any other person to play for the Lakers and perhaps anyone in the history in the NBA. Magic, Shaq and Jerry West have called him the greatest Laker. Kobe never let anyone or anything get in the way of his game. He might not be the easiest person to get along with at times, but you know that the moment he steps on the court, he’s giving it everything. He’s played through a slew of injuries and while he never really came back in full force after rupturing his Achilles, there was no stopping him in his prime.
Picking a small forward came down to two people: Elgin Baylor and James Worthy. This one was a difficult choice to make. Worthy fit in so well with the Showtime Lakers. But it’s Elgin Baylor who kept the team afloat back in Minneapolis. In 1960, the team moved to Los Angeles and Baylor’s play just kept improving. In the 1961-62 season, Baylor averaged just over 38 points per game. And over his career, his average came out to 27.4 points per game. His offense was stellar and he took the team to eight NBA finals in his 14 years (however, he rarely played his final two seasons). He even scored 61 points in game five of the NBA Finals in 1962, which is still an NBA Finals record.
Pau Gasol is the winner for this position. He was traded to the Lakers in the 2007-08 season and played with the team the following six seasons. In that time, the team came away with two more titles and he was a big contributing factor. He worked well with the team because of his ability to spread the floor and his passing skills.
This one was tough because there are multiple good options here, especially the duo of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. However, with Kareem being the points leader in the NBA, he has the edge. Plus, we know how much Kobe and Shaq butted heads already, even if they were a dynamic duo, so it would be interesting to think about how Kobe and Kareem would fit together in this starting five. Kareem spent 14 years with the Lakers and over that time delivered a consistent performance. He played until he was 41 and even then he still managed to average just over 10 points per game.
So there you have it, my ultimate starting five lineup if I had to pick out players in their prime to play together. It’s a shame that this is something we’ll never be able to see, but it sure is fun to think about anyway.