Lakers own the blueprint to return to title contention

The Lakers have the plan to get back into title contention around LeBron and AD.
Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James
Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham after a disappointing first-round playoff exit. They are searching for a new leader on their bench, but that alone is not enough. The Lakers need roster upgrades around LeBron James and Anthony Davis if they plan on competing for a championship.

LA was in the middle of the pack on both ends of the floor last season. They must add shooting, defense, and shot creation to get back into contention. How do they move up? The Lakers have the star power, but who can the front office acquire this summer?

Rob Pelinka and his front office have the blueprint. They were by far the best team in 2020 when they won a championship, and the Minnesota Timberwolves followed a similar mold to build their current roster. How can the Lakers replicate that model?

The Lakers need a veteran point guard next to LeBron James

Rajon Rondo played a key role, especially in the playoffs, on the Lakers 2020 championship squad. He came off the bench but averaged the fifth-most minutes in the playoffs. Rondo could organize the offense, create open shots, space the floor, and get them some easy buckets. LA was missing that piece this season, and it showed.

The Timberwolves have Mike Conley starting at the one. He plays the same role that Rondo did in 2020. He enhances their star and gives them another needed creator.

The Lakers need another big man to play next to Anthony Davis

Davis played plenty of center in 2020, but the Lakers had Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee to eat minutes next to him. Finding a capable center is a must when facing Nikola Jokic or the Timberwolves center trio.

Minnesota is supersized with Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid. They play two big men nearly every minute and create matchup problems. The Lakers need a trusted option beyond AD if they plan on defeating Minnesota or Denver in the playoffs in 2025.

LA desperately needs shooting and perimeter defense

The biggest missing piece from the Lakers title run is the 3-and-D options. LA had Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, and Alex Caruso rounding out their roster around LeBron and AD. All three are known for their perimeter defense and shot-making. This year, LA had to rely on Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt. It is not quite their 2020 trio.

The Timberwolves have Jaden McDaniels, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Kyle Anderson filling those 3-and-D roles. Anthony Edwards is an elite defender to help out, and he alone makes Minnesota a scary opponent.

The Los Angeles Lakers own the current championship blueprint. They should focus on adding 3-and-D wings via trade this summer. They can find a veteran point guard and a capable big man in free agency, but acquiring the wings will be difficult. The Lakers wish they never traded KCP and Caruso, but all the front office can do is replace those roles. It is their path to contention, so stay tuned to see if they can make it happen.