Friday, Los Angeles Lakers fans received some tough news. Point guard Dennis Schroder returned to the team on a one-year, $2.6m deal (a roughly $82m pay cut) coming off a season where we saw him suit up for the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets; and after utterly dominating in almost every EuroBasket game he played in this offseason.
While his tenacious play style was sorely missed last season, it does beg the question as to whether or not we now have a problem in the backcourt.
The squad went into this offseason with Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, and Kendrick Nunn. They drafted Max Christie and signed Scotty Pippen Jr. The organization in free agency went and signed Lonnie Walker IV, traded for Patrick Beverley, and now signed Dennis Schroder.
It doesn’t take an insane basketball IQ to come to the conclusion that the backcourt is a tad bit crowded. Let’s take a look at different pairings and which would provide the most optimal performance.
For the sake of the article, I don’t plan on including Max Christie or Scotty Pippen Jr seeing as how the rookies more than likely won’t see much playing time unless it’s for the South Bay Lakers.
I also won’t include Lonnie Walker IV because although he is listed as a guard, he more than likely will be receiving most of his minutes at the 3. And as a final precursor, Lebron James won’t appear in any backcourt combos although I believe the ball should always be in his hand.
The ideal situation for the Los Angeles Lakers:
When you look at the flaws of last year’s Lakers roster there were certainly many to point out, yet there was one glaring issue that really can’t even be calculated. Hustle and energy. The team simply put did not have that dog in them.
Sure you can call out atrocious shooting numbers specifically behind the three-point line, and a defense that finished 23rd in the league, but it was visually apparent that the team had a lot of quit in them.
The backcourt pairing to fix that? Schroder and Beverley. One has boasted the nickname ‘Dennis the Menace’ with his hustle and pest-like behavior, while the other is the league’s template for hustle and aggravation. Aside from the two being some of the NBA’s leaders in energy, they also provide a fix to the aforementioned issues.
Pat Bev’s defensive prowess goes without saying, but it’s his career average of 38% behind the 3pt-line and 55.6% from the left corner that will blow Lakers faithful away. Schroder himself is an average 3pt shooter, yet his quickness creates spacing for others and his energy on defense is relentless posting a defensive rating of 107.9 last season which was identical to…DPOY Marcus Smart.
The backcourt in this scenario would hopefully be Austin Reaves and Kendrick Nunn. Reaves has shown enough offensive creation not only for himself but for the team as well. Nunn, on the other hand, didn’t show us much of anything last season suffering a bone bruise that would hold him out for its entirety.
Lakers fans, however, will more than likely remember his rookie season where he finished the year second in Rookie of the Year voting to Ja Morant, and helped the Miami Heat reach the finals against LA.
My ideal situation does not involve Russ.
The realistic situation for the Lakers:
When it comes to the real situation the team finds itself in, Russell Westbrook is still on the roster heading towards training camp. Before yesterday it seemed as though we were on a crash course heading straight towards a Westbrook Beverly backcourt pairing… and then the team signed Schroder.
As soon as the news broke reports came out that the reality of Russ coming off the bench was coming closer to fruition.
The topic of Westbrook swallowing his pride and coming off the bench has been tossed around since last season, but only time will tell. I will say that when it comes to breaking news to players that they don’t want to hear, I anticipate Darvin Ham being more up to the task than Frank Vogel was.
I do see the Lakers coaching staff able to make the tough decision of benching Westbrook barring the Monstars returning his skills, which would hopefully open the door for my, and I’m assuming, most Lakers fans starting backcourt of Schröder and Pat Bev. Where the trouble lies is the rotation past those two. Who gets bumped out of minutes?
While most fans would agree that Kendrick Nunn, when healthy, is a much better option than what we saw from Russ last season. I, unfortunately, see Nunn being the odd man out considering his lack of availability last season.
Russ and Reaves coming off the bench wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but my fear with that pairing is that Russ’ usage would severely hinder Reaves’ growth which I see being exponential in the coming years.
The Los Angeles Lakers signed Dennis Schroder to a one-year deal and there are now several signs pointing to Russell Westbrook being traded to the Pacers.
Training camp is certainly approaching quickly, and soon after that, the regular season will follow. There are seemingly new rumors every day that the Lakers are set to make this move or that move. All I can say is that we will just have to sit, wait, and trust Pelinka to get the job done.