Lakers Offseason: Who is Currently the Best Player on the Lakers?

Mar 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (left) reacts during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. The Phoenix Suns won 95-90. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (left) reacts during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. The Phoenix Suns won 95-90. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers-Kobe Bryant era has finally come to a close, but what does this mean for the “best player on the team” debate?

For years this question was easily answered, as the Lakers have seemingly always had a best player. From George Mikan and Jerry West, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, ending with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, this is the first time in what seems like franchise history that the team has yet to have a player solidify himself as the Alpha Dog.

The argument can be made based off of potential, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell fill in here nicely, results, queue Jordan Clarkson, or even experience, Lou Williams and Luol Deng I’m looking at you, so we thought it’d be interesting to hear what those who follow the Lakers closely had to say on the topic at hand.

Here are our thoughts on the debate:

Eric Yee, Co-Editor

The tentative answer for me is D’Angelo Russell. Though he showed that he has plenty to improve on during his first season and even during Summer League in Las Vegas, it seems obvious that the Lakers are his team for the taking.

Armed with elite court vision and big shot making ability, Russell is primed for next season to be his breakout year. Despite what coach Luke Walton has said about leading by committee, it’s fairly certain the the Lakers will be a Russell-centric team come next season and rightly so.

Cody Williams, Co-Editor

It would feel all warm and fuzz inside to say Jordan Clarkson or D’Angelo Russell deserves this title already. Moreover, your heart might be softly whispering “Zubac.” However, the only clear answer here is Luol Deng.

Admittedly, guys like Russell and Clarkson might be more dangerous offensive weapons that Deng at this point in the latter’s career. However, none of them hold a candle to what Deng is still capable of as a two-way wing. He’s not the lockdown guy he once was, but he has the size and strength on defense that make him a versatile defender in addition to being an above-average offensive players.

It’s unfortunate that you have to describe the Lakers “best player” in those terms, but that’s the state of a rebuilding team. The optimistic outlook, though, would say that the right development and growth will have Russell, Clarkson, or even Brandon Ingram taking ownership of that title soon enough.

Alex Vejar, Staff Writer

Jordan Clarkson showed he could score at will and has the mentality that he can put and will put a team on his back. He has improved his jump shot and has worked feverishly to get all aspects of his game to another level.

In his rookie year, he averaged almost 12 points per game, an average which jumped to 15.5 points per game the following season. He also played in 20 more games in his year two. Entering his third year, Clarkson is primed for a big season as the veteran of the Lakers’ young core.

With the team’s additions this offseason being all on the older side, Clarkson should get featured in Luke Walton‘s new offense and with as much work as been putting in this offseason, there’s no reason to think any other player is better then Clarkson at this point.

Anthony Yassa, Staff Writer

While the title of Lakers’ best player is a much more highly contested honor than it was last season, the player who holds that title is still a player who was on the roster last season.

More from Lake Show Life

Luol Deng may ultimately end up being the most consistent contributor on the team, but he can’t match D’Angelo Russell’s ability to take over a game at any time. The 20 year old’s ability to score in bunches and in a variety of different ways is what allowed him to score 39 points in a single game as a rookie, and it is what will make him the best player on the team this season.

D’Angelo Russell will also be relied on to create offense for his teammates and the new system should allow him plenty of opportunities to show off his tremendous vision. No other player on the team can match his combination of passing and scoring, which will make him the most important single piece in the Lakers system.

While D’Angelo Russell will have to take a serious step forward to propel the Lakers back to relevance, he has already shown enough to be considered the man on this year’s squad.

Stephen Ontiveros, Staff Writer

D’Angelo Russell certainly has more star potential than anyone currently on the Laker roster and with competent coaches who will allow him the time on the court necessary to grow, he’ll be the best player on the Lakers by season’s end.

For the time being, however, that title belongs to recently acquired veteran Luol Deng. Deng’s numbers don’t jump off the page or “wow” anyone but he gets the job done. As a member of the Miami HEAT last year, he averaged 12.3 points, his lowest since his rookie year, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game. Again, nothing that will blow someone out of their seat.

With Deng, though, to be able to measure his true value, you have to look beyond the stat sheet. On the offensive side of the ball, Deng sets solid screens for the ball handler and makes the extra pass rather than settling for a bad shot, which is also evident in his effective field goal percentage from last year, at 51.4 percent.

Defensively, teams keep the ball away from the man Deng is guarding, so he doesn’t have many opportunities to rack up steals and blocks, mainly due to his stellar shot altering ability. While he may not hold the title for long, Luol Deng is currently the best player the Lakers have.

Next: Jordan Clarkson Hit the OC Fair on Closing Day

What are your thoughts on the debate? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter!