After the 2014-2015 campaign, the Lakers came out with a record of 21 wins and 61 losses with many fans watching in despair as the playoffs start without the Lakers… again. So the question on everyone’s mind, what lies ahead?
In terms of the next one or two seasons, the Lakers have a checklist with a lot of requirements but there are really only a few that really need to be considered.
- Don’t overlook the draft: Even though the Lakers had a horrible season, the Lakers have a very high chance of getting a top-5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. You can hit or miss in the draft and with no promises for free agency this summer, this is prime real estate for the Lakers, and picking at a solid player can help in the rebuilding process. The Lakers have holes to fill and they have a couple of options that they should be looking at, and one of them should be Justice Winslow. In many ways he can be the next Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Winslow is 6’6, athletic, and not only is he dangerous on the offensive end but he can cause headaches on the defensive end. The Lakers are in desperate need of someone who not only can play alongside with Kobe, but can also get going on his own. With Kobe literally surviving on his last leg, someone not only needs to carry the torch, but can help survive the storm.
- Go big in the next two summers: The Lakers obviously are in need of some superstars, but for the next two summers, players like Kevin Love, Russel Westbrook and even Mike Conley are going to be available. If the Lakers aren’t able to capitalize at least in one of the two summers, they aren’t going anywhere near the playoffs, if not a winning record. Not only do we need some superstars, but we need to keep some of the other players as well. With a focus on a new point guard and power forward, the Lakers should be in a great position to at least make a playoff appearance by at the least 2017, if they are to get two superstars. Even in the worst case scenario, the organization should be able to grab some solid pieces.
- Being realistic about Kobe Bryant: When Kobe walked off the court in the game against the Golden State Warriors in the 2012-2013 season, it was time to consider the fact that the Black Mamba might be losing his venom. As much as we may love him, he’s been in the NBA for 18 seasons, and is going to be out soon. It’s time to come terms with the reality of the situation that Kobe Bryant is close to retiring. He’s a future hall of famer for sure, but he won’t be able to play from his living room, so the organization needs to start looking for a new star in the making. There is even a bigger elephant in the room that Kobe may never get that sixth ring he wants. Instead, the Lakers should be encouraging Kobe to start teaching what it takes to some of the younger guys on the team and keep being the inspiring vocal leader he is to the team.
- Develop Jordan Clarkson: Jordan Clarkson, the rookie point guard for the Lakers, was a draft pick that no one expected to not only start for the Lakers, but actually contribute. He’s been in the conversation to be considered for the NBA all-rookie team, and is a young and upcoming talent. For a second round pick in the draft last year, he’s showing a lot of promise. Clarkson can shoot, create opportunities, and has length. In the Western Conference, point guards have become a hot market because of the latest batch of explosive guards. If he becomes a better player, there might not be any need for Jeremy Lin, and could become a solid option off a young and struggling Lakers bench.
- Figuring out Byron Scott: For his first season as the coach of the Lakers, Coach Byron Scott most likely didn’t have the season he wanted. Looking more at the 61 losses than the 21 wins, Scott doesn’t really have a great track record when it comes to the Western Conference, and hasn’t been close to a championship since his days in New Jersey after losing back to back in the NBA Finals. Ever since he moved to the Western Conference in coaching a team like New Orleans during the Chris Paul era, and his horrible stint as the coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers over in the East, the Lakers may have made a poor decision. Everywhere he goes failure follows, and it seems that its followed him to Los Angeles. No one knows what his philosophy is, but on the other hand, he’s been able to keep a great relationship with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers shouldn’t fire him, considering that the roster is not exactly championship material and with some promising opportunities around the door, he might give the Lakers what they need.