How the Lakers can develop their young talent

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While the Lakers have built a respectable roster this season, considering their long-term wishes for flexibility, the team faces a dilemma. They have 4 young players on their roster worth developing – rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, second year player Ryan Kelly, and 23 year old Xavier Henry. While none of these players will start for the Lakers this season, each are intriguing prospects that could become quality starters in time or valuable trade pieces.

There are long-term question marks for each projected Lakers’ starter this season. The organization has clearly assembled a roster to compete for the playoffs this year, but the Lakers aren’t a championship contender and need to keep an eye toward their future. Kobe Bryant is in the last years of his otherworldly career. Carlos Boozer is still a solid starting power forward in the NBA but he is in the early stages of decline. Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill are solid role players who may be better suited for the bench. Jeremy Lin is a possible longer-term solution at point guard if the price is right.

Outside of Bryant, the other 4 starters are on deals that are expiring or have team options. With their status uncertain, the Lakers’ youngsters need to be a priority for new coach Byron Scott. In many ways this season is similar to the 2005- 06 season, in that the Lakers brought in journeymen to be stopgap starters, and used the prospect of lowered expectations to get valuable playing time for players like Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, and Luke Walton. All three players became integral parts of the Lakers’ two championship teams in 2009-10.

We will look at the youngsters and the veterans they will play behind. In some cases, the situation is already perfect. In other ways the Lakers risk the chance at stunting the development an asset for playing a veteran that may not deliver dividends.