With the recent signing of Christian Wood in a two-year deal worth 5.7 million dollars (the second season being a player option), the Lakers continue building a roster that covers most of the needs of a contender for the NBA championship.
Without overhyping the addition of the former Dallas Maverick (as he is far from a superstar), his signing is especially valuable because of his fit alongside the main pieces of the Los Angeles squad.
Wood as the ideal complement for AD and the Lakers:
In spite of his versatility allowing him to play diverse roles, Anthony Davis has spent a major part of his career playing center even though, since his Kentucky days, he was considered a four.
The player himself has stated in multiple occasions that he can indeed play the five, but is not as comfortable as in the power forward spot.
Allowing Davis to play more minutes in his natural position is one of the pros of bringing Christian Wood in, but the most significant advantage is the synergy between both players.
The Lakers finally have a big that can comfortably score from the three-point line, something that AD has not been able to do in his four years at California (last season he averaged under 26% from deep).
Making almost 38% of his threes last year, Wood will also generate spacing for his frontcourt partner to exploit his post-scoring ability and strength as a pick and roll finisher.
On the other hand, the Laker’s latest signing is a weak defender who can somewhat protect the rim (as he managed 1.1 blocks per game in the latest campaign) but is not mobile enough to effectively switch defensive assignments.
Having a perennial DPOY candidate by his side will allow him to shine without having to worry too much about players like Jokic, Embiid or Antetokounmpo, who could expose his weaknesses but will be guarded by Davis.
A roster to compete for everything?
As a result of their historic relevance and the presence of two bona fide superstars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers will be labeled as one of the favorites to win the title without a shadow of a doubt.
The truth is that their roster is better than last year’s and, in spite of the competitiveness of the west and their dreadful start to the regular season, they managed to reach the conference finals.
Their Playoff success may have had a lot to do with the presence of decorated postseason veterans on the team and the inexperience and off-court trouble faced by some of the opposing franchises (like the Grizzlies). But that does not mean that positives like the consecration of Austin Reaves or the level displayed by Rui Hachimura should be downplayed.
The Los Angeles side has pieces capable of fulfilling almost any task with the exception of a defensive specialist at the guard positions (a duty attributed to Gabe Vincent in spite of not being a pure defender), but the doubts appear whenever the level to which the players can perform in their roles is questioned.
When comparing their rotation to other franchises in the western conference, it is clear that most of the secondary pieces the Lakers have are in the second tier of their respective categories.
Obviously, cohesion, leadership and experience (all facets that the Lakers strive at) also play a critical role in the chances to compete of any team, but there is a point in which the leaders cannot always carry the rest of the roster.
Despite still being among the best in the world, LeBron is not in his physical prime anymore, Davis’ continuity is a major concern as a result of his injury history in the last few years and Austin Reaves is not ready to be the decisive player of a franchise.
The mixed signals make predicting the performance of Darvin Ham’s squad next season a really difficult task. Especially in a conference in which qualifying for the postseason is noticeably harder than last year.
Teams like the Nuggets (the reigning champions), the Suns (who have one of the most complete offensive arsenals ever after acquiring Badley Beal), and the Kings (who left great sensations last year) or wild cards like the Warriors, Clippers, Mavericks or even the Thunder, will make it really difficult for the Lakers to try to give LeBron a chance to win what would be his fifth title.
Main image: @Lakers.