The Los Angeles Lakers have a prolific starting rotation—at least in name value—that matches up well with nearly any first unit in the league. The problem is, once Mike D'Antoni is forced to turn to his bench, the Lakers are sunk.
Players like of Jodie Meeks, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon are not good enough to lead L.A.'s second unit against the deeper teams that dominate the Western Conference. Simply put—the Lakers can ill afford to lean on their bench to score or defend well, and it will keep them from being contenders.
The following players would go a long way in helping the Lakers have more of an identity, and at least help to solidify a big problem lurking behind the starting five.
The Lakers offense places a premium on perimeter shooting, and the characters they’ve so far employed in that role have been a disappointment. Adding Kirk Hinrich would alleviate some of the pressure on the starters to score in bunches.
Hinrich is also a solid ball-handler and plays with enough moxy to lead the second unit. He doesn’t really solve any defensive problems that exist at the guard position, but he will at least be a more consistent fit to what Mike D’Antoni's offensive system.
The Boston Celtics are taking blow after blow.
After losing star point guard Rajon Rondo for the season, rookie Jared Sullinger went down just a few days later. Although the argument can be made that Jason Terry is staying put because the Celtics need guard depth, a stronger case can be made that a true contender will find his services valuable.
Granting the Lakers such a chance to have long-term success seems generous at this point, acquiring a talent like Terry would set them in the right direction.
Much like Hinrich, Terry is a good perimeter shooter. He’s also a veteran with postseason success under his belt who understands what kind of energy it takes to play through playoff adversity.
If Boston goes downhill quickly without two key players Terry could easily be moved, and L.A. is just one potential target.
Catching on to my theme here?
Kyle Korver can straight up drain the three ball and has proven he can handle an increased role in Atlanta in the absence of Lou Williams.
Quite simply, Korver is instant offense and would benefit greatly from the spacing created by D’Antoni’s offensive game plan. That is, if the Lakers can execute it well enough.
Again, Kyle may not be the defensive answer that the Lakers are looking for, but he is certainly a match for the system and a player that could be a big benefit to the potency of L.A.'s second unit.
Okay, this one is a bit of a reach. Andre Iguodala seems comfortable in Denver, and the Nuggets seem poised to re-up the guard’s contract at the end of this season. Iggy is about to make some big money.
At any rate, from a player-analysis perspective, Iguodala is a really strong match to fulfill the Lakers’ needs at this point. Not only is he a superior wing defender, he brings a measure of explosive athleticism that the Lake Show lacks.
The odds of Kupchak being willing—or able—to spend the money and assets necessary to make Iguodala a Laker are indeed very slim. But seeing him suit up for the Purple and Gold would be a major boost to the confidence of the team and greatly aid bench production if he didn’t find a starting role.
The Lakers are lacking defense and rebounding, especially if Dwight Howard’s shoulder woes continue. Andrei Kirilenko will immediately bring a defensive, fighting spirit to the Lakers' bench.
The Timberwolves’ forward is a solid player in all facets of the game and would be a welcome addition to a struggling bench. AK-47 plays with high energy and doesn’t demand too much as an individual.
The most important thing that needs to immediately change about the Lakers is how they defend. Adding Kirilenko would go a long way in boosting their attention to detail on the defensive side of the ball.