Welcome to the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers, where power forwards come to party. Realistically, the Lakers have two true centers in Robert Sacre and Ed Davis. However, Jordan Hill will likely see the majority of his time there, leaving Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle, and Ryan Kelly at the four spot. It is those latter three we are covering today.
The Lakers power forward position wasn’t too complicated prior to July 17. Randle was seen as the likely starter, given a large chunk of minutes, while Kelly would also benefit from an increase in minutes. However, the Lakers front office were surprised when they were awarded Boozer after putting in the highest bid following him being amenstied by the Chicago Bulls.
Boozer is not a bad player by any means. In fact, at just $3.2 million, he’s a steal. However, it’s the situation that has Lakers fans upset. Boozer will only cut into the minutes of youngsters Randle and Kelly. Also, considering that the Lakers are expected to be a lottery team again this season, bringing on an aging veteran that you can’t trade makes little sense.
The Lakers, however, have never been committed to tanking. In reality, if the Lakers are intent on winning, Boozer aids that process. Much like the acquisition of Jeremy Lin, bringing in Boozer gives the Lakers a proven veteran. You know what you get with Boozer, and that’s a solid offensive player with limited defensive impact.
The player that Lakers fans are most excited about is Randle, though. The Kentucky product got Lakers fans excited during the Summer League. His ball-handling ability mixed with his size and physicality is a rare package. He’s a mixture of Lamar Odom and Zach Randolph, with a little Showtime mixed in. Yes, we’re overly enthusiastic about him, but I expect him to see a fair amount of minutes for Randle both at PF and maybe some time at SF.
The last on the depth chart has the most intriguing skill set. Kelly is a stretch four who showed in flashes last year that he could become a quality role player. However, he’s pushed back to the bottom of the pile this season, despite starting 25 games last year. Considering his skill-set, Kelly will see plenty of time on the court, and like Randle, could see time at SF as well. In fact, Kelly saw time anywhere from shooting guard to center last season. His versatility will help him find playing time.
In the end, Boozer’s addition certainly clouds the picture, but doesn’t deter the Lakers from further developing Randle and Kelly too much. Here’s their expected outcomes:
Carlos Boozer – 25 minutes, 14 points, 9 rebounds
Julius Randle – 25 minutes, 12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
Ryan Kelly – 15 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds