The LA Lakers made some big moves in the 2021 NBA offseason. Coming off of an underwhelming NBA season plagued by injuries to their stars, the Purple and Gold looked to make some big changes to their roster.
The NBA offseason saw a great deal of changes. With a sudden influx of a number of talented veterans such as Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza and Rajon Rondo to the lineup, the team looks at making an immediate run for an NBA championship.
The LA Lakers have one of the oldest lineups in the NBA with an average age of 32.4 years. While this team is built to contend, it must contend now.
In an attempt to answer their woes and make a comeback to championship form in the upcoming season, here are three areas in which the LA Lakers have improved in the 2021 NBA offseason.
#1 LA Lakers sign Russell Westbrook
In the early days of NBA offseason, right before the free agency window opened, the LA Lakers acquired All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. The blockbuster trade saw the Lakers parting ways with Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No.22 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
But the Purple and Gold received one of the most explosive guards in league history.
The addition of Russell Westbrook has garnered mixed reviews from the media and fanbase alike. It raises many questions regarding how effective he will be playing alongside LeBron James and whether it will create some discrepancy on the offensive end.
However, Russell Westbrook is an asset regardless of which team he joins. A walking triple-double machine, Westbrook puts up phenomenal numbers that contribute to the team's success.
Westbrook averaged 26.3 points, 16.1 assists and 13.8 rebounds for the 2020-21 season. Even outside the numbers, Westbrook's work ethic and intensity is something that is necessary for a team looking to make a comeback.
While Westbrook tends to be ball dominant, this might be an advantage. Should LeBron play off the ball, it takes the playmaking load off LeBron's shoulders, freeing him up to focus on scoring.
With Westbrook running the fastbreak and Anthony Davis running the floor with him, the LA Lakers trio will be a menace to any team they come up against.
The LA Lakers worked hard to create a team full of savvy veterans who were signed to minimum deals. However, the Lakers also started re-signing players who were part of the 2019-20 title squad. The LA Lakers saw the return of players like Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo.
Rajon Rondo's return is particularly noteworthy because of the leadership and the basketball IQ that he brings to the team.
Howard's return is key to the Lakers because of how he spots Anthony Davis. Being a rim protector and rebounder, Howard protected Davis from getting into foul trouble while also spotting the minutes Davis had to play at the 5.
The addition of star veterans is also huge for the LA Lakers because of the depth it has given the team. With talented players like Carmelo Anthony and Kendrick Nunn available as go-to options, the Lakers have depth in their lineup till at least the tenth or eleventh spot.
This is a massive upside because it helps counter the age factor. With enough depth in the lineup, the Purple and Gold won't have to rely on their stars to play heavy minutes. This also reduces the risk of injury for LeBron and Davis.
The health of the stars should be prioritized if the LA Lakers want to win another championship. The depth that the team has developed this offseason has given them a good opportunity to do just that.
One of the biggest concerns for the LA Lakers in the 2020-21 season was their shooting from beyond the arc. They shot 34.9% which in the modern era isn't a great number. They ranked in at the 23rd place among all the teams in the NBA for three-point shooting.
Wayne Ellington, who played for the Detroit Pistons last season, shot 42.2% from downtown. Ellington is a great catch-and-shoot player who moves well without the ball and gets to his spot. Paired alongside passers like Westbrook and LeBron, there is a high potential for him to flourish in the Laker offense.
Kent Bazemore is a fantastic two-way player. In the 2020-21 season, Bazemore averaged 40.8% from the beyond the arc, which was a career-best. Bazemore is an effective scoring punch off the bench and can definitely help space the floor for the LA Lakers.
With the likelihood of Westbrook and Davis dominating in the paint, a good three-point shooter draws some attention away from the paint.
It also opens up options on the fastbreak for Westbrook or LeBron to drop it off to a trailing shooter if the driving lane is shut. In either scenario, the LA Lakers made some serious improvements to their lineup.