Which new signee will have the biggest impact?
Booth – I had said in a previous roundtable discussion, and will stick by it, that I like the signing of Kaman the most. He & Gasol have already shown in the preseason they have natural chemistry together. I’m also glad to see Jordan Farmar back in the purple & gold.
Garcia – Xavier Henry is the player I project to have the most impact. It may not show consistently on the score sheet, but he’s the best current young prospect on the Laker team. He plays high energy defense, gets out in transition, works on his ball-handling, and has a developing mid-range shot. He has all of the tools with a developing skill set to be an impact player this upcoming season.
Hicks - I think Farmar will be the biggest new addition at the end of the day. He’s solid in most areas and seems to be playing with an edge that will be useful to the 2nd unit. Ideally he would get more work with the starters who could use his penetration to get easy looks. Farmar also has the trust of Bryant and Gasol and that be huge if and when Steve Nash breaks down. I also expect a lot from Henry. I think he can be a good defender off the bench and a good enough scorer to help limit Kobe’s minutes.
Morales - The biggest impact players will be Kaman, Young and Henry. Chris will allow Pau to display his versatility. He and Pau play off each well and Chris is another mid-range shooter, plus someone who goes and gets rebounds. Nick is a scorer, a creator, someone who can go on offensive binges and yet in the preseason he has shown his ability to move the ball, to find teammates. Xavier will eventually replace Meeks as the #2 shooting guard. He is just better than Jodie, but what X adds is his physically toughness and aggression. He wants contact and will get to the line a lot and control the pace of the game. Plus he is a good defender for his position and in certain games will play deep in the fourth quarter for what he can do on defense. And he is a hungry player.
Cottrell – I’m going to say Nick Young is going to have the biggest impact. Yes, Nick Young can be a whole on offense. But, if he comes off of the bench once Kobe returns, he can be the perfect energy guy off of the bench. Not to mention, he moved the ball much better in the preseason, and he has also been talking to Kobe a lot. If Nick Young can use his swag for good, he will be a nice piece to this team.
Lopez – Jordan Farmar. Farmar has looked great this preseason, providing tough defense and creative offense off the bench. With Steve Nash likely to play fewer minutes and games, it is important for Farmar to step up in a big way. He is the most athletic point guard on the roster and will be needed to play defense against the top tier point guards in the league. Last season opposing point guards had their way with the Lakers, so an upgrade in the defensive play from the position would be huge.
Rude - Can I say a whole second unit? One of the biggest positives I got out of the preseason was the second unit of Farmar-Meeks-Henry-Johnson-Hill. I know two of those guys – Meeks and Hill – are returnees, but the latter three will have the biggest impact. Their youthful energy is something the Lakers severely lacked last year, as well as their athleticism. All three could be long-term Lakers as Farmar and Johnson are just 26 while Henry is 22.