The Los Angeles Lakers still have more work to do this offseason. While the team brought in a handful of free agents, the front office has not fixed the biggest problems on the team. As it currently stands, the Lakers are a play-in team at best.
Russell Westbrook needs to be traded and once the Lakers do that the team will get better as a result. Los Angeles is actively better without Westbrook on the team as he simply does not fit what the team wants to do: win basketball games.
If Westbrook does stick around he is likely going to have a smaller role than he did last season. Darvin Ham is already getting more power than Frank Vogel had as he has more freedom to bench Westbrook if he deems fit.
And based on how Westbrook plays, there are going to be plenty of times that Ham deems it fit. It is almost impossible to justify having Westbrook in the closing lineup because of his poor defense and tendency to try and play hero ball.
While the closing lineup is better off without Westbrook, it does not change how horrible the current projected closing lineup is. Jovan Buha of The Athletic recently gave his best guess on what the closing lineup can be and it is downright sickening.
There is not a single fan that can look at that potential closing lineup and actually think it could make noise next season. That is not a team that can win a playoff series.
Granted, the Los Angeles Lakers’ closing lineup can be tweaked.
Buha’s closing lineup prediction is interesting considering the players he chose to close the game. I definitely agree with him that Westbrook should not be in the closing lineup but there are players that I would put in the lineup over these options.
Thomas Bryant should probably be in the closing five instead of Juan Toscano-Anderson. The Lakers also would probably have Lonnie Walker IV in the closing lineup over Troy Brown, who Walker is simply better than.
Reaves is probably a better option than Westbrook but better than him is Kendrick Nunn. This definitely is not the best-case closing lineup for the Lakers right now.
However, the best-case closing lineup right now still is not very good. It might not as disheartening but it is still not a lineup that can expect to win a playoff series next season.