Lakers Rumors: Jermaine O'Neal Is Best Bet for Los Angeles to Upgrade Frontcourt

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IJuly 15, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22:  Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the New York Knicks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Along with Jermaine O'Neal, the Los Angeles Lakers are reported to be interested in multiple frontcourt players this offseason.

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Aside from [Jordan] Hill, appearing on the Lakers' "short list" of names they are hoping to add to the roster for the veteran's minimum are Antawn Jamison, Elton Brand and Jermaine O'Neal, according to a source familiar with the team's thinking.

That said, Elton Brand is no longer available, as he was picked up by the Dallas Mavericks, per ESPN's Marc Stein.

So, L.A.s "short list" just got shorter and O'Neal is the next best bet for the Lakers' frontcourt. Here, let's see how O'Neal fits the mold in Los Angeles for the 2012-13 season.

 

Depth

It never hurts to have depth and getting reliable depth only enhances a team's rotation.

Well, Jermaine O'Neal could do just that for the Lakers, as he played in 49 games the past two seasons in Boston. Not an everyday starter or player, but O'Neal's ability to rebound and block shots would certainly help the Los Angeles defense.

Andrew Bynum is unquestionably better, as is Pau Gasol, but a stronger rotation is needed to keep the team afloat. Last season, L.A. ranked No. 15 in defense by allowing almost 96 points per game.

Against more explosive offenses like the Thunder and Clippers, the Lakers need to improve defensively for another run at the NBA Finals.


Experience

At age 33, Jermaine O'Neal provides plenty of NBA experience to Los Angeles. And with other guys like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, O'Neal's veteran status bodes well in any game situation.

Additionally, through 16 years in the association, O'Neal has been on 13 playoff teams and has played in 90 postseason games. During the 2010-11 campaign with the Celtics, O'Neal started all nine of Boston's playoff games and logged almost 22 minutes per contest.

Now his overall experience doesn't match that of Kobe, but O'Neal does present an increase in reliability for late in the regular season and during the postseason.

 

Total Skill Set

Along with ranking No. 15 in defense the Lakers also ranked No. 15 in scoring offense. Despite being a Top Five team in rebounds and Top 10 in assists, racking up points and locking down on defense must improve.

Fortunately for O'Neal, he can provide this in two different forms.

For one, he can be a solid bench player . Secondly, he can provide the occasional start. Last season, O'Neal started 24 games of 25 played for Boston and averaged 5.4 rebounds with 1.7 blocks per contest.

He may have averaged under 23 minutes, but O'Neal was efficient enough to get the job done when called upon. Adding O'Neal would also give the Lakers a dynamic team to present against any opponent.

They could go big with O'Neal and Bynum dominating the frontcourt or keep O'Neal at center and give him time with the starters. Along with Bynum's talent, Los Angeles would simply have the luxury of using multiple looks with different frontcourt personnel.

You know Kobe and Nash will do their work, so creating more favorable mismatches in the paint is only to the Lakers' advantage.

 

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