Mar 8, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski gives his players direction in their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Laker Basketball, Duke Basketball

It’s time for March Madness.  The Lakers are in the middle of a full four-and-a-half day break.  It’s been a tough couple of games lately, and it never hurts to reset the mind and body to prepare for the end of the season. During this break, there is plenty of NCAA games to watch.  All of them seem tightly fought and very competitive. Rankings don’t matter.  It’s about heart, toughness, execution, and energy.

Watching Duke’s game today reminded me of how the Lakers championship teams revolved around two or three superstars.  This year, they have Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.  The third guy is Rasheed Sulaimon, who plays as a combo guard for the Duke team.  When all three of those guys are doing well offensively, they are very tough to stop.  Sulaimon struggled early in the season and didn’t start for the team until half-way through. His consistency got better.  His decision-making got better.  The team plays with three tough perimeter threats.

I thought to myself, “Wait, could the Lakers look like this in two years?”

It’s actually possible.  Within two years, the Lakers are expected to acquire a great lottery pick and a top-tier free agent.  Given the current draft position, it’s possible that Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Dante Exum are available.  If the lottery ball doesn’t drop to Laker favor, Marcus Smart and Rodney Hood are still available.

In terms of free agency, Laker fans are aware of Kevin Love’s interest in being part of the Laker team.  This has been brought up throughout the season.  Los Angeles would welcome him with open arms.  He may not be Blake Griffin, but he fights with strength and activity.  His skill level at the power forward position is guard-like.  Who else passes and shoots like a shooting guard at that position?  No one else at his level.

So, let’s imagine the scenario.  In 2014, the Lakers draft Dante Exum.  In 2015, Kevin Love is acquired.  Kobe Bryant, is assumed to be healthy.  For some, this idea may be a stretch.  But, Kevin Love plays in the paint and has perimeter range.  Jabari Parker is more dynamic offensively.  Simply put, both guys are stretch-4’s that play with great activity in the paint.  Think of Dante Exum as Rodney Hood.  Rodney Hood is a true shooting guard in a small forward’s body.  He’s a tremendous shooter with aggression on both ends of the floor.  Exum is a better facilitator, but may not be ready to be a #1 option on offense.  Both are aggressive attacking the basket.  Think of Kobe Bryant as Rasheed Sulaimon. I get it; to some, that’s a total insult.  But, in the end, both of them are guards that are dynamic offensively and underrated playmakers. Without Sulaimon, Duke doesn’t play to their potential as a team.  Without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers don’t play to their potential as a team either.

Talent-wise, that’s a three-headed monster that make disruptive impact in the playoffs.

The only difference between the teams, is the leadership.  The talent is much more easily attainable, but the leadership is what carries them over.  Coach Krzyzewski is the Jerry West of Duke’s basketball program.  Not only is he a mentor and a coach, but he’s the face of Duke basketball.  With Bryant’s disinterest in Mike D’Antoni’s style, the Lakers are looking for a new face.

Unfortunately, it appears that face signed with the New York Knicks as president.

Sometimes the best talent to be had isn’t always on the floor.  Sometimes to the best talent is the guy sitting behind a screen, implementing a winning culture all over again. At least we know, Kobe Bryant loves Coach K. Any chance we could get him for a two-year deal?

… I thought I’d try.

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Tags: Duke Jabari Parker Kobe Bryant Lakers Mike D'antoni Rasheed Sulaimon Rodney Hood

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