Since being waived by the Dallas Mavericks over a month ago, after a slew of internal disputes, West has flown under the radar, to the point where he has yet to find a new home. But Los Angeles can change this.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Lakers are considering opening up a roster spot to allow themselves the opportunity to bring West into the fold.
No firm decisions made yet but Lakers, I'm told, ARE weighing pros and cons of creating roster spot to sign Delonte West to ease PG crisis— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 12, 2012
I know what you're thinking: Are the Lakers crazy?
And the answer to that inquiry is yes—only if they don't find a way dress West in purple and gold.
Though West is one of the league's most tumultuous personalities, he's also a perfect fit for what Los Angeles currently lacks on the hardwood, and he's a perfect fit for Mike D'Antoni's offensive system.
Sure, he's a perennial basket case, but Los Angeles' performance thus far indicates that its current culture may be more unstable than West has ever been himself.
Currently, the Lakers sit at a horrid 9-13, find themselves out of the playoff picture and are fresh off an inexcusable road loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. They also rank 14th in defensive efficiency and are allowing 98.8 points per contest, the 12th-most in league.
To make matters worse, Los Angeles will also be without the crafty stylings of Steve Nash for at least another two weeks, and Steve Blake still has a lengthy road back to recovery as well. Toss in the Lakers 20th-ranked assists per game statistic (20.7) and you have a team desperately in need of a wide range of services—all of which West would provide.
First and foremost, the combo guard is a proven shooter. Sure, he's averaged double-figure point totals just three times in eight seasons, but he's also shot less than 35.5 percent from beyond arc just once.
Though Los Angeles currently has five guards shooting better than 39 percent from downtown, West's career clip of 37.2 percent is still valuable because he's consistent. Outside shooters like Chris Duhon, Darius Morris, Jodie Meeks, and even Kobe Bryant, however, are proven wild cards from behind the rainbow.
West's shooting, though, is not all that makes him valuable to a surprisingly submissive Lakers team. With Nash and Blake on the sidelines, Morris still being raw and Duhon being the embodiment of ambiguity, Los Angeles is in dire need of an additional playmaker.
While West is averaging just 4.7 assists per 36 minutes for his career, he's an efficient ball-handler who is more than capable of capitalizing off drive-and-kicks. He's never averaged more than two turnovers per game in his career, and he's a much better ball-handler than most people realize.
Even with Meeks and Duhon in the fold, along with the prospect of Blake and Nash's inevitable returns, his ability to run the point is not to be discounted either.
Of all the Lakers' backup point guard options, West would instantly become the best to eventually backup Nash, as well as fill the starting position now. Only last season he posted a 14.8 PER per 48 minutes when running the point, a mark that far exceeds what Los Angeles' current backups are averaging at this point.
With the increasing number of setbacks that Nash has incurred, West's ability to run an offense—and thrive while doing so—is essentially a luxury the Lakers cannot afford to pass on.
And that holds true, even when Los Angeles' backcourt reaches full-strength, because West is not only the most sensible option to provide an offensive spark behind Nash, but he would easily be one of the team's best perimeter defenders as well.
Most of what West does on the defensive side of the ball isn't reflected in the box score. He doesn't grab a jaw-dropping number of steals (1.1 per game for his career) nor does he block shots or rebound more than most guards can.
However, West does remain one of the most suffocating defenders in the league. He's extremely quick which allows him to defend off the dribble, he keeps opposing wings out of the paint and superior anticipation allows him to defend three different positions.
Opposing offenses score less when he's on the floor. Just ask the Mavericks.
Considering that the Lakers are struggling defensively to the point where they are actually giving up more points with Dwight Howard on the floor, West's execution on that end of the ball would be invaluable.
He helps keep players outside of the paint, which would lessen the burden that falls on Howard's shoulders. West also mitigates the need for Duhon and Meeks, defensively inept players who help allow opponents to post an offensive rating of at least 109 when one of them is on the floor.
Given what we know now and what West's impact ceiling is, how could the Lakers pass on the opportunity to sign him?
They can't. Not if they wish to boast the likes of a competent floor general in Nash's stead, and not if they are serious about correcting their ever-growing list of defensive wrongs.
And especially not if they are to have any hope of turning their season around and becoming a semblance of the contender that they were supposed to be this season.
Stats in this article are accurate as of December 11, 2012.
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