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Why Raja Bell Would Be Perfect Addition to Answer Lakers' Bench Woes

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Why Raja Bell Would Be Perfect Addition to Answer Lakers' Bench Woes

One team's outcast is another team's ticket to dominance.

At least, that's what Mike D'Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers believe.

Though Los Angeles has been anything but the eyesore under D'Antoni that it was under Mike Brown, there is still work to be done. I'm not just talking about Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard taking their production up a notch, either. 

I'm talking about the Lakers' bench, the same underwhelming attack that is putting up just 13.4 points per night, the second-worst posting in the NBA. And while I'm at it, I'm also referring to Los Angeles' lack of shooters. Kobe Bryant and Metta World Piece have really amped up their outside accuracy, but a D'Antoni-coached team needs more firepower. Much more.

Is that the Utah Jazz's phone we hear ringing? Why yes, I believe it is.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Los Angeles is interested in acquiring the ever-available Raja Bell from Utah:

With the hiring of Mike D'Antoni as coach, the Los Angeles Lakers are showing a renewed interest in acquiring exiled Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Bell, 36, has had strong advocates with general manager Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant since the summer, but D'Antoni's history coaching Bell with the Phoenix Suns has amplified discussion of signing the veteran guard should the Lakers create an opening on their roster.

Can we really blame D'Antoni and the Lakers?

Bell can score. From anywhere.

Of course not. I'd actually hold it against them if they weren't interested in bringing Bell into the fold. And while Wojnarowski goes onto note the Los Angeles would have to create an opening by releasing a player or trading one, and then wait for Bell to execute a buy-out with the Jazz, the complexity of situation is no reason for the Lakers to be discouraged.

Because this pairing makes more than just sense—it's perfect.

Not only is Los Angeles' bench the second-least potent docket of reserves in the league, but the Lakers find themselves in the middle of the pack in outside shooting, converting on a mediocre 34.8 percent of their attempts per game. When you've jacked up 43 more three-pointers than any other team in the league, that's a problem.

Toss in Howard and Gasol's less-than-aggressive offensive tendencies and you have a team in serious need of some point-totaling depth.

Did I mention Bell was the perfect candidate to help resolve such issues?

The 36-year-old shooting guard is shooting the three-ball at a 40.6 percent clip for his career and has converted on less than 35 percent of his attempts just twice in 12 years.

Do you know how many members of the Lakers can say that?

Exactly one. His name is Steve Nash. The same Steve Nash who spent spent four years torching opposing defenses under D'Antoni.

Just like Bell did for three years.

Remember this? Mike D'Antoni does.

Bell is no stranger to D'Antoni's offense. He spent a total of 232 regular season games mastering it. Not so coincidentally, that three-year span was the most productive his career. Under D'Antoni, he averaged 13.8 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting from behind the rainbow.

The veteran's string of long range has continued since then as well. Last season, in limited action, he still managed to connect on 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts.

How's that for good measure?

In Bell you have someone who is familiar with D'Antoni's system and how to succeed in it, as well as familiar with the crafty stylings of Nash. That's not just fortunate for the Lakers—again, it's pretty much perfect.

Shot chart via NBA.com.

Los Angeles' bench is laughable at this point. Both Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison have struggled like they've got a case of the Jeremy Lins. While there's still hope that both can contribute, neither has proved to be a source of certainty from beyond the arc or offensively in general.

Who would be more valuable to the Lakers off the bench?

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Bell has. For more than 10 years he's been automatic on the perimeter and provided instantaneously efficient offense in any role he's assumed. The fact that he's done it under D'Antoni already is merely a bonus, one that the Lakers must take into account.

Because this potential acquisition is going to get complicated. A lot of things have to go the Lakers' way for this to work; it's going to take plenty of diligence on Mitch Kupchak and company's part if Bell is going to don purple and gold.

But it will all be worth it.

When it entails Los Angeles' bench finding a semblance of competency, when what's at stake is the difference between title contention and a championship pitfall, anything the Lakers have to do is worth it.

How could it not be?

 

All stats used in this article are accurate as of Nov. 23, 2012.

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