Struggling Young Players LA Lakers Can Sign on the Cheap
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers could use additional depth to go with their stellar starting lineup. Yet the team doesn't have much room under the salary cap to work with this offseason.
So, how can LA find impact players who also won't command much salary?
It seems there are two types of players that fit that mold. There are aging veterans looking to sign cheap deals in order to win an NBA championship before they ride off into the sunset. These are the types of players who generally come to mind. However, there are also young, promising players who have yet to live up to their potential.
Getting some sort of mix between the two is the ideal scenario. However, in the Lakers' situation, it may be beneficial to focus on younger players because LA's roster is already comprised of a plethora of aging veterans. Adding some players with fresh legs will be key.
Of course, if Los Angeles brings in the right young players, not only will it get bodies who can help fill a current void, the Lakers will also get talent that has the potential to get even better.
Omri Casspi has certainly shown some promise during his four-year career. In fact, he even received some votes for the 2009-10 NBA All-Rookie team in recognition of his efforts with the Sacramento Kings.
However, Casspi was traded to Cleveland following his rookie year and he hasn't progressed much since.
While Casspi's scoring numbers have dipped every season he has been in the NBA, he has also starting to fortify other areas of his game. During the 2012-13 season, he set career highs in defensive rating, block percentage, steal percentage, assist percentage and total rebound percentage. Despite his dip in scoring, his PER of 12.9 is eerily similar to the 13.0 he put up in his promising rookie campaign.
Casspi could be an interesting option for Los Angeles. He's clearly starting to improve as an all-around player and he wouldn't be asked to score much with the Lakers, so any deficiencies he has in that department wouldn't be exposed.
The Lakers are already familiar with Shannon Brown from his previous stint with the organization. During that two-plus year run, Brown posted his most productive overall seasons.
His defensive ratings of 105 and 106 in his two full seasons in LA are better than any other he has had in the NBA. The same can be said of his win shares per 48 minutes of .096 and .093.
While Brown's numbers may have fallen off since leaving Los Angeles, he's still a productive player. Last season, he averaged a 12.6 PER as a shooting guard and a 19.7 PER when playing small forward. Meanwhile, his opponent counterpart averaged a 12.7 PER at shooting guard and a 22.7 PER at small forward. So for the most part, Brown is hanging in there against the competition.
With his ability to provide help on both offense and defense, coupled with his ability to play small forward and shooting guard, Brown could certainly bring some value to the Lakers.
Austin Daye hasn't panned out in terms of what's expected from the 15th overall pick in the NBA draft, which he was for the Detroit Pistons in 2009. However, he's a solid rotational player, and his size would provide mismatches for the Lakers to exploit.
Because of Daye's 6'11" height, he's tall enough to match up with opposing power forwards. But Daye's ideal position is the 3-spot, where he's usually much bigger than whoever he's matched with. Unlike more traditional players of his size, Daye's got the range on his shot, being a 35.6 percent three-point shooter for his career, to keep defenders honest.
Likewise, his length really helps him on defense. In fact, Daye held opposing small forwards to a PER of 14.5, compared to the 15.4 he posted on offense. He also out-rebounds opposing small forwards, averaging 9.2 per 48 minutes to their 6.9.
As a small forward who can provide defense and stretch the floor on offense, Daye would be a good fit for the Lakers. He's also still only 24 years old and possesses the talent that had him drafted No. 15 overall in the first place.
Reggie Williams looked like a steal during his first two seasons in the NBA.
He averaged 15.3 points in 24 games as a rookie with Golden State and then followed that up by averaging 9.2 points in 80 games on 46.9 percent shooting from the field and 42.3 percent from three-point range.
However, Williams' production has dipped over the past two seasons.
He only appeared in 40 games for the Charlotte Bobcats this season, averaging 3.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists. However, his per-36 minutes averages of 13.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists are in line with his career production.
Williams could be a good option for the Lakers, especially if he can once again find his shooting stroke. After shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three-point range in his first two seasons, he's seen those numbers dip to 42.1 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from three-point range.
Considering he would likely come relatively cheap, it might be worth it for Los Angeles to kick the tires on Williams.
Cole Aldrich will never be mistaken for an NBA All-Star.
Heck, just by looking at his basic stat line, he might not even be confused with a solid rotational player, but dig a little deeper and you'll see that he can actually bring some things to the table.
For one, Aldrich is an underrated defender. His career defensive rating of 103 is certainly solid while his career averages of 2.4 blocks and 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes show that he's a capable frontcourt player.
However, what stands out most about Aldrich's defensive ability is the way it affects everyone else on the court. For example, when Aldrich was in the game, the Sacramento Kings posted a defensive rating of 100.8. When he was on the bench, the Kings had a defensive rating of 109.4.
As for offense, Aldrich doesn't provide much. His career field-goal percentage of .540 is certainly solid, but it's more of an indication of him realizing his limitations than it is a reflection of his offensive skill set.
Consider that of his 80 field-goal attempts in 2012-13, 79 of them came within 10 feet of the basket. Of those, 44 of them came at the rim. He also only attempted 7.4 field goals per 36 minutes.
To provide some context, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 19.4 field goals per 36 minutes over his career. It's fair to say that Aldrich is the antithesis of a volume shooter.
If the Lakers sign Aldrich, it will be because of his defensive value. He's also relatively young at 24 years old and his 6'11", 245-pound frame would bring legitimate size.
Here are a few more players who might fit the mold for the Lakers. They are only honorable mentions because while their contracts are non-guaranteed, there cap figures are low enough for their incumbent team to likely retain them.
Thabeet provides nothing on offense, but as an all-defense center, he might be worth it for Los Angeles. His 9.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes would be enticing. However, with his cap figure at only $1.2 million for 2013-14, there's a good chance the Thunder keep him.
He's a better all-around player than guys like Thabeet and Aldrich because he provides more offensive value. He's also 28 years old and just completed his first year in the NBA. The Mavericks have him under contract in 2013-14 for $788,872, but it's non-guaranteed. Even then, Dallas is likely to bring him back.
The center is coming off his rookie year with the Orlando Magic where he averaged 13.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per 36 minutes in 2012-13. He also posted a 17.5 PER as a center and held opposing centers to a 17.0 PER. However, the Magic are right in the middle of rebuilding and young assets like O'Quinn are players you generally build around. Furthermore, his $788,872 option is team-friendly, so don't expect him to leave Orlando.
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