2021 Los Angeles Lakers Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Dennis Schroder||17||Alex Caruso||4||Quinn Cook||2|
|Shooting Guard||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||1||Wes Matthews||9|
|Small Forward||LeBron James||6||Alfonzo McKinnie||28||Jared Dudley||2|
|Power Forward||Anthony Davis||23||Kyle Kuzma||0||Markieff Morris||5|
|Center||Marc Gasol||14||Montrezl Harrell||15||Andre Drummond||2|
It was all but a foregone conclusion that LeBron James would be joining the Lakers this offseason and he didn’t keep Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka waiting very long as he came through with his decision rather early on in free agency. The biggest question after the LeBron James news was whether or not he would be joined by All-Stars Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, or Kawhi Leonard. Paul George elected to stay in Oklahoma City, Cousins took an offer from the Warriors, and the Lakers were unable to secure a trade with the Spurs to acquire Leonard which left the Lakers without a lot of options to give LeBron help. Instead of George, Cousins, or Leonard, the Lakers ended up with JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and Michael Beasley to help LeBron lead the Lakers back to the promised land. The Lakers should have no issues improving on last season’s record of 35-47, and 11th in the Western Conference, with LeBron James at the helm, however, the Western Conference is an extremely top-heavy conference so overtaking the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers to break into the playoffs will be a tough task even for the best player in the world.
LeBron is coming off a season where he averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers but he was unable to lead them to a championship and fell short in the Finals against the Warriors. After ranking fourth in the NBA with a 31.6 percent usage rate and leading the league with his 36.9 minutes per game, having playmakers around him will be a welcome sight for him. It is likely that both Luke Walton and LeBron James will take every opportunity to rest during the regular season so he is fresh if the Lakers make the playoffs, so having both Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasley behind him at the power forward position behind him will be a big benefit for the Lakers. Kuzma was outstanding for the Lakers last season and looked to be one of the steals of the draft, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the floor. Beasley didn’t have a huge impact while playing for the Knicks last season but he is another player that can handle the ball behind LeBron.
The Lakers are still very young with Lonzo Ball heading into his second season, and Brandon Ingram his third, but having veterans like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson backing up those two will be a benefit to both. Ball had an up-and-down season last year, especially from a shooting perspective, but he showed off his excellent passing and an ability to rack up peripherals. He averaged 10.2 points, 6.9 boards, 7.2 assists per game last season and should grow significantly with Rajon Rondo behind him on the depth chart. Rondo has his own issues as a shooter but he will be an excellent mentor for Ball and a good fill-in option if Ball’s knee isn’t healthy to start the season. The Lakers locked up Kentavious-Caldwell Pope in the offseason, as well, and he provides them with a defensive stopper on the wings while Josh Hart will get minutes behind him and gives them an athletic stat stuffer off the bench. Caldwell-Pope will hope to build on a strong season last year where he averaged 13.4 points, 1.4 steals, and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 38.3 percent from beyond-the-arc. Hart saw significant minutes towards the end of last season and showed off his ability to hit from three-point range, connecting on 39.6 percent of attempts, so the Lakers will be strong on the wings this season. Brandon Ingram took a pretty big leap in his second-year last season and averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He will look to build on that under the tutelage of LeBron James and he will have Lance Stephenson behind him at the small forward position.
The Lakers are rather weak at the center position with JaVale McGee as the starter and McGee was an absolute sieve on defense last season. McGee carried a defensive rating of 106.7 last season, meaning he gave up 106.7 per 100 possessions he was on the floor, and they only have rookie Moritz Wagner and Ivica Zubac behind him. Zubac has shown off some skill at times in the G-League but that has yet to transition to the NBA and he will have to battle rookie Moritz Wagner for the backup center minutes.