Los Angeles Lakers: Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith need bigger roles

(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The two most recent additions to Los Angeles Lakers’ roster have a chance to prove they can make a valuable contribution.

The Houston Rockets came up on top of Game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder just by an inch and defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals.

A loss not totally unexpected in some measure, as the Lakers had been inactive for a week while the speedy Rockets just stepped out the floor of Game 7.

Houston’s unique style of play brings advantages and disadvantages, and after this defeat the Lakers will definitely have to do some adjustments, which will get them away from the usual rotations.

With D’Antoni’s integral small lineup, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard should not see many minutes of action, as Anthony Davis the only big man allowed to spend major time on the floor. Furthermore, the Rockets are led by two of the best point guards in the game.

The main requirement for head coach Frank Vogel will be to basically add a small player role at the rotation. Even removing McGee from the lineup and start with AD at center should be in consideration right now. Also, defending Russell Westbrook and James Harden is going to be a hard and taxing task. Vogel will need to dig deep in his guard rotations.

This should be the chance for Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith to receive some much needed playing time and make an impact on the series.

Signed respectively just before the lockdown and the opening of the bubble, the two guards were added to build depth in a Los Angeles Lakers roster that needed help on the wing and to provide scoring off the bench.

After some acquainting use in the seeding game, they got seldom used in the first round, especially Waiters, originally the first choice. He was put on the floor in Game 1 but only when it was too late and he was predictably ice-cold after such a long time without game action.

In this series, every player capable to provide the already proverbial 3-and-D might be called to stand and give his contribution, and that is exactly what the last two additions can do.

Trying to limit (because it’s the only way we can put it) Harden and Westbrook is basically an impossible feat. Vogel will need to throw at them everything he has and figure out who the best at doing it are. Chances are that not just one player will answer to the necessity, but different strategies and different situations will require multiple assignments.

The long-considered Los Angles Lakers’ primary defender Danny Green has been a delusion so far, while Alex Caruso rose prominently as the team’s stopper. But it will not be enough so things are going to be difficult on the perimeter.

Waiters and Smith are mainly known for their scoring abilities in their careers, and they have both been underappreciated good defenders. Especially Waiters has gone under the radar, but he showed some good glimpse when committed, in his best days on the Miami Heat.

Next. Appreciating Steve Nash's tenure in LA. dark

This is their chance to show their value and earn more space on the roster. All Vogel has to do is call up their names.