NBA free agency is beautiful, isn’t it? With all the rumors swirling and fans playing the role of GM, players aren’t just assessed based on their monetary value, but also on how much we as fans really desire having them on our teams.
For the Lakers, it’s all about getting back on the map, and that begins with acquiring some talent during this period. A name that’s been tossed around over the past couple days has been LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s set to meet with a bevy of teams over the course of the next few days.
Aldridge averaged a career-high 23.4 points last season for the Blazers while corralling 10.2 rebounds per game to go along with one block a game. He’d provide an instant upgrade in the frontcourt for the Lakers with his ability to score via pick-and-pops and create for himself in the painted area.
You can never undervalue rebounding in the NBA, and LMA has notoriously been good in that category. He’s also an excellent free throw shooter for his size, shooting nearly 80 percent from the charity stripe in his career.
The question you always ask yourself when analyzing whether players would be the right fit with the Lakers is how well they’d fare playing with Kobe Bryant, who’s set to play in the final year of a two-year extension and possibly might retire thereafter. It’s not as important a question now with Kobe so close to the end of his career, but for at least next year, it’s something that’ll have to be considered.
Well, if you’re just looking at face value, the talent between the two might suggest that this has all the makings of an elite duo. Pau Gasol thrived in Lakerland playing alongside the future Hall of Famer, so this could be pretty darn electric, right?
Not so fast. Sure these two individuals have 21 All-Star appearances between them and a combination of talent that’s transcendent, but both are volume shooters and this could bring negative results if not managed correctly. Not to mention Kobe has been a shell of himself in recent years thanks to his advanced age and injuries, which has hurt his efficiency.
Just last season, Bryant and Aldridge were second and fourth respectively in the league in field goal attempts per game. Kobe hoisted up 20.4 shots per game to the tune of a dreadful 37.3 percent, while LMA averaged 19.9 shots on 46.6 percent shooting. As illustrated, these aren’t the most efficient guys in the NBA.
The Lakers are expected to make a strong pitch to Aldridge in hopes of bringing him to Hollywood, and if this comes to fruition, there will be immense pressure on the entire team to make this work out effectively.
Sometimes we create these false notions that must be eradicated. If there’s any thought that Byron Scott has to adjust his system to make it conducive to the playing styles of Bryant and Aldridge, one must deem this to be foolish. In all actuality, it would be incumbent upon the players to ameliorate their games and make adjustments and sacrifices in order to benefit the team.
With all the meetings between free agents and teams taking place this week, we don’t have any concrete evidence as to where most guys are going to sign, so at this point, everything is just speculation. But if the Lakers do in fact sign Aldridge, a plethora of adjustments will need to be made.
Pencil in the basketball acumen of Scott. Draw a line that arrows to the sacrifices needed to be made by Kobe (more Point Kobe!) and LaMarcus. Then put an encompassing circle around newbies D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, who’s basically going to be a rookie this season after getting hurt in his first game last year. The fit with Randle will be interesting to keep an eye on, especially if Randle/Aldridge turns out to be the starting froncourt. Aldridge has always been more comfortable as a power forward, but if a legitimate center isn’t brought in, he’ll have to play a lot of center.
But no matter what else happens, if this is going to pan out the way fans envision, all hands will need to be on deck.