The Laker free agents have a common theme tied to them; low-risk, high-reward. It’s perceived that the team needs another power forward, preferably one with natural perimeter skills. But before I elaborate on why Shawne Williams is a smart choice, I’ll run through the recent availability of other free agents; Louis Amundson, Lamar Odom, and Michael Beasley.
Louis Amundson is a duplicate talent to Jordan Hill. Hill worked on his game tremendously last season, adding a more consistent jumpshot and moves in the paint. Amundson goes more to the core of Hill’s game, floor speed, hustle, and rebounding. It’s not clear how well Jordan Hill has recovered from last season, but there is reason for optimism. He provided bounce and energy on a slower tempo Laker team. He provides great activity on the floor regardless of pace. He’ll be asked to finish in the paint, screen effectively, and pop out for the midrange jumpshot; all within his capabilities. Amundson is not quite there yet, but he provides the same spark off the bench with his energy and enthusiasm on the floor. It’s never a surprise when he beats his defender down the floor for a semi-transition layup, then go straight into full-court press defensive posture.
Lamar Odom would have been an ideal fit for the Laker team. He provides triple threat skills with the underrated ability to push tempo. His best strength is grabbing the defensive rebound and pushing the ball down the floor to put defenses at their heels. That is easy to have at a guard position, but from a forward spot, provides additional advantage. His wingspan and size allow him to switch defensively among the three frontcourt positions in press situations, and unlike common power forwards, he’s more natural attacking from the perimeter than getting position in the paint. Unfortunately his demons have come back to haunt him and we hope he has a speedy recovery. Laker fans are rooting for him.
Michael Beasley is a lottery talent, and was touted as “The Next Carmelo Anthony.” It seems like a stretch now, but at Kansas State, he dominated in isolation situations, blew past his defenders off the drive, and hit from 3-point range with good regularity. He was able to rebound at a high rate and became a key piece of Kansas State entering the NCAA tournament. He has played on pure talent alone, and fell in love with isolation play. This tends to shut down his teammates offensively and lowers the energy of the team. He’s not the defensive presence he once was in college and his off-the-court antics may be more detrimental to a team rebuilding its’ identity.
Enter Shawne Williams. He will be able to fill in a bit of Earl Clark’s previous role of setting screens and hitting from the perimeter. He doesn’t have the explosiveness or ball-handling ability, but unlike the aforementioned power forwards, he can create spacing for Nash, Bryant, Gasol, and Kaman to work their 2-man game. That makes him valuable to Mike D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy. While the terms of his contract are not disclosed, it’s not a stretch to see him make the team. We want Kaman and Gasol both on the block at separate times on the floor, and Williams will allow that to happen. If he makes the team, then congratulations to him and good luck for the upcoming season. If he doesn’t make the team, good luck as well. The difference is, he doesn’t bring the fan favoritism for Lamar Odom or the expectations of Michael Beasley’s talent on the floor. Either way, it’s a low risk for the Laker team.