The Lakers season is about to begin! The long, dreaded offseason is finally over and we will see the Lakers in action on Tuesday night.
Before that, I want to do a quick power ranking of what I think are the 12 possible rotation players. There are 15 players on the roster of course, but these are the 12 that I think will have a chance to be in the regular-season rotation.
So without further ado, let’s start off with who I think is the 12th best player in the rotation.
12. Rajon Rondo– It feels a bit en vogue right now to dunk on Rondo, but I don’t think I’m being too harsh when I rank him last out of the 12 projected rotation players.
His game has fallen off since he was a championship player with the Celtics, and he doesn’t do enough on offense or defense to justify being on the court. He has turned into a capable shooter when left completely open, but that’s about the only thing he provides in terms of scoring. He is the second-best passer on the team, but his passing doesn’t make up for his poor all-around offense and defense.
By all accounts, Rondo’s a great leader, but maybe his best chances of helping the Lakers is as a coach on the bench, not on the floor.
11. Jared Dudley– Dudley is still a really valuable player. He is the prototypical great teammate that all championship hopeful teams want on their team.
Dudley is a smart defender, a good spot-up shooter, and just knows what his role is. He’s never going to hurt the team by making dumb plays and he’s one of the smartest players on any team he is on. He has a good chance of moving up this season, but right now I honestly don’t know how many minutes he will get on this team. So for now, I’m ranking him 11th in the rotation.
10. Dwight Howard– Dwight is on the Lakers and I am rooting for him? It feels weird saying that after the disaster that was the Kobe-Dwight-Nash season that was doomed from the start.
Howard, since that season, has bounced from team to team and dealt with injuries and a decline in talent. He isn’t the player he once was, and the former dunk champion often looks like a superhero without his cape.
But Howard is still a gifted athlete, and if he fulfills his role, he can be a valuable backup big. If he plays solid defense, rim runs, and grabs rebounds, he can fit right in and might even become a fan favorite in LA.
9. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope– KCP is going to be on this team forever, isn’t he? Klutch client extraordinaire is entering his third season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has been as up and down as you can possibly get.
If you catch him on the right night, he looks like a 3-and-D player that any team would love to have. On a bad night, he’s making head-scratching plays and doing his best Dion Waiters iso impression. Needless to say, he’s inconsistent.
But, he is still one of the better guards on the team, and if he can just fill his role and not do too much, he can be a really solid rotation guard.
8. Alex Caruso– All memes aside, I was slightly disappointed by Caruso in the pre-season. He was a disappointment on offense and never looked that great when given the opportunity.
It was only a few games, and I think there’s a good chance he bounces back and rises up this list. He has a case to make that he is the best point guard on the team, but he will need to prove it first.
7. Quinn Cook– I think Cook has a chance to surprise a lot of people and end up as one of the Lakers’ best guards. He’s the second-best shooter on the team behind Danny Green, and he is a really good playmaker. He isn’t the world’s best defensive player, but if he can just be average on that end, he has a chance to be the Lakers’ best point guard.
6. JaVale McGee– JaVale’s job on this team should be relatively simple: make offensive plays around the rim, grab rebounds, play solid defense, and be a lob threat. Before JaVale got sick last year, he was playing the best basketball of his career. Now that he’s on a better roster with more spacing, he should be even better.
5. Avery Bradley– Avery Bradley on the Celtics was one of the premier 3-and-D players in the league. He is known for his pesky defense, and he can knock down an open shot on most nights. Over the last few years, he’s look a bit washed, but he has been dealing with nagging injuries.
He’s still only 28 years old, and playing with LeBron and Anthony Davis should relieve most pressure off of him. I think he has a chance to be really good on this team, so I might be projecting future performance rather than any recent success. But if there’s any chance for him to return to the player he once was, it’s on this team.
4. Kyle Kuzma– Kuzma has a chance to be the clear cut third-best player on this team, but I want to see it first before I anoint him. He’s a very skilled offensive wing player with a long ways to go on both offense and defense.
His offense dipped last year, and what was a promising rookie year shooting the ball was followed up by a year where he barely shot 30% from three. He improved as a defensive player, but I wouldn’t even call him average at this point.
He has a lot of promise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he solidified himself as the clear cut third-best player whenever he returns from injury. But for now, I can’t put him there.
3. Danny Green– Danny Green fits perfectly alongside the Lakers two stars. He is an elite shooter, and is nearly guaranteed to make shots if he’s given space. He is a solid defender as well and should have a great shooting year playing off of LeBron and Davis. He is in his 30s, and he is coming off of a career year, so there is always a worry that he has a down year.
Playing next to LeBron and Davis and getting plenty of open looks should push back against natural regression.
2. Anthony Davis– Anthony Davis is a 26-year-old superstar who has never been on a team with this much talent. He is one of the best players in the world, and he is one of the few top players who is elite on both ends.
There has been a lot of talk this offseason on how the Lakers will run offense through Davis, and I expect that to be the case as the season goes along. But for now, I have him ranked as the second-best player on the Lakers, because the guy at the top spot has something to prove.
1. LeBron James– There’s not much else I can say about LeBron that hasn’t been said a million times. He’s one of the greatest players of all time, arguably the greatest.
LeBron is in his mid 30’s, and he is either in the last stages of his prime or about to exit his prime. But, at least for this season, I expect LeBron to send a message.
There’s been a lot of talk in the offseason about how LeBron is maybe on the decline. Maybe he only cares about making movies and his other business ventures.
I think LeBron has heard the critics loud and clear, and I expect him to come out and prove everyone wrong. The crown was removed from his head last season, and I think he wants it back.