Los Angeles Lakers: What the closing lineup should look like next season

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /

The Los Angeles Lakers’ closing lineup will be different in 2021 than it was in 2020.

The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals on the backs of a monster defense that quieted opposing stars from the opening tip. But it may be their offense that brings them their next title.

After agreeing to send one of their best wing defenders, Danny Green, to the Oklahoma City Thunder for offensive sparkplug Dennis Schroder, the Lakers have made their intentions clear: next year is all about buckets.

This will be a welcome shake-up for Laker Nation because the one thing that limited Los Angeles in the Orlando bubble was the need to choose between shot creators and perimeter shooters at the end of games.

Dennis Schroder will help solve that problem. He dropped nearly 19 points and 4 assists per game last year in only 31 minutes, and his 38.5% three-point percentage puts him right in line with the Lakers best shooter in 2019-20 — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

And Schroder may not be the only Oklahoma City export suiting up in purple and gold next season.

Enter Danilo Gallinari. We’ve already detailed why the 32-year-old swingman is a perfect fit for the defending champs. He scored 18.7 points per game and shot a blistering 40.5% on 7 attempts from beyond the arc last season.

Imagine the spacing he would provide for the ongoing LeBron James and Anthony Davis dunk fest. If the Lakers can snag Gallinari with their mid-level exception, all of a sudden their two supernovas will be flanked by two premier secondary scorers.

All Rob Pelinka needs to do is stay under the luxury tax, and he may be able to lure Gallinari westward for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception.

Then the priority shifts to signing on for Act II of the KCP redemption story, a simple move which would allow the Lakers to reach their holy grail: surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis with three shooters at the end of games.

To fill out the rest of the roster, the Los Angeles Lakers should focus on retaining the talent that still fits: Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard. If JaVale McGee picks up his player option, L.A.’s 2021 depth chart could look similar to their championship squad, except deeper and more balanced:

2020-21 Starters:

  • Avery Bradley
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • LeBron James
  • Anthony Davis
  • JaVale McGee

2020-21 Key Bench Players:

  • Dennis Schroder
  • Alex Caruso
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Dwight Howard

2020-21 Closing Unit:

  • Dennis Schroder
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • LeBron James
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Anthony Davis

Start with defense, close with offense. Surround LeBron and Davis with shooters for 48 minutes and laugh as the five opposing defenders scramble to cover an airfield. Schroder and Davis can run pick and roll when LeBron sits. Gallinari will stretch the floor for LeBron when Davis needs a breather.

And when the game is on the line, remember that Schroder and Gallinari were integral parts of the best closing lineup in the entire league last year. If they bring that confidence to the City of Angels and become key parts of a renewed supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis?

Next. Lessons from the Danny Green-Dennis Schroder trade. dark

This would be bad news for the Western Conference.