Evaluating a post-Kobe Lakers and the moves they've made in free agency

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The L.A. Lakers are one of the most recognisable names in all of sport. They are a historic franchise that has only ever really been associated with winning.

Their enormous 16 NBA titles is only second to the Boston Celtics' total of 17 in the history books. Given the Los Angeles location and celebrity fanbase, the organisation has always kept itself firmly in the public eye.

Everybody knows who the Lakers are. The common British citizen might not be able to tell you which cities the Bucks or the Jazz belong to, but you don't have to like basketball to know who the Lakers are.

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The Lakers of today are a far cry from the dominant franchise of yesteryear. A far, far cry.

With Kobe Bryant's retirement last season, their last symbol of greatness has ridden off into the sunset and taken any remnants of the Purple and Gold's great past with him.

This is a new day, and in the city where Hollywood fairytales are brought to life, the Lakers fanbase needs to trust those writing their script and pray for a happy ending.

After failing to make the playoffs for three straight years, and putting together the worst regular season record in franchise history last year with just 17 wins, the Lakers have reached a crossroads.

This can't go on. A franchise of such historical significance won't let it go on and their celebrated, global fanbase will not accept it.

So, what is the state of play with the Lakers?


The California-based franchise actually have one of the best young cores in the NBA today. Of course, that comes as a result of losing quite so spectacularly for the past few years and gaining a fair few lottery picks, but they have a team that could potentially make some strides as they mature.

That's then, though. In the here and now, they lack the leadership and experience that is essential to navigate an 82-game season. The reported acquisitions of Jose Calderon, Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng will go some way to improving their roster in that regard, but they still lack a driving force, a superstar lifeblood that Kobe in his prime represented.

Luke Walton

Their former player turned head coach is a breath of fresh air around the organisation. Coming in from the imperial Golden State Warriors, Luke Walton brings with him a working knowledge of, quite possibly, the greatest offence in the history of the NBA.

If the 36-year-old can transfer that style to his young Lakers, the Purple and Gold will be spacing the floor and dropping buckets from the perimeter in no time. The best thing about that prospect? The Lakers have the talent to do it.

Walton is known as a players' coach and having only wound down his playing days a few years ago - where he won two NBA titles with Kobe Bryant as a Laker - he has a current understanding of the league and the grind it entails.

Make no mistake, Walton is a huge departure from the old school Byron Scott and he will be as big of an asset as any player to grace the Staples Center this season.


As alluded to earlier, the Lakers have done a bit of business in free agency. Mozgov arrived from the championship-winning Cleveland Cavaliers on a surprising four-year $64 million deal. Deng signed for the same period of time, but for a monstrous $72 million, and more than a few eyebrows were raised at both deals with the men 29 and 31 respectively.

However, the duo aren't being brought in for what they can directly contribute to the stat sheet, it's how they aid the development of the superstar young core is where the money will be well spent.

The addition of Duke's Brandon Ingram as the second overall pick in this year's draft is a welcome one indeed for the Lakers. The small forward is eerily reminiscent of Kevin Durant and at 18-years-old, he has plenty of room to grow his game.

There's no coincidence that Deng has been brought in, too. The veteran had a stellar second half of last season with the Miami Heat and can give plenty of wisdom to Ingram as he tries to secure the three spot next term.

The same applies to the acquisition of Calderon. As the New York Knicks starting point guard last season, he now comes in to tutor and play backup to the second overall pick in 2015, Russell.

The Lakers have more depth and knowledge than they did last year, though they are still some way off a playoff team.

However, three, maybe four years from now? It might just look like money well spent.

Julius Randle
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Luol Deng
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
D'Angelo Russell
Kobe Bryant

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