The Los Angeles Lakers came up short in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Instead of sulking, general manager Mitch Kupchak shifted his focus to other options and deserves credit for a couple under-the-radar signings.
First, the Lakers signed Nick Young, per the Lakers' official website. The 28-year-old swingman has shown flashes of becoming a high-impact player throughout his career and could shine playing alongside a more talented supporting cast in Los Angeles.
"At 6'7'', Nick’s size, ability to create his own shot and athleticism make him a versatile player who will give our lineup multiple looks on the floor," said Kupchak. "He’s an exciting player, and we’re excited to have him on our roster."
Then, knowing there was a void to fill in the middle without Howard, the Lakers reached an agreement with Chris Kaman, again per the Lakers' site. The veteran center should provide some much-needed stability in the post.
"We’re pleased to be able to add a big man of Chris’ caliber to the roster for the upcoming season," said Kupchak. "He’s a versatile center who defends well, goes hard to the glass and can score both in the paint and from mid-range while also being a high character guy and solid locker room presence."
Even though neither of the signings generated much hype outside of Los Angeles, both Young and Kaman have the ability to play significant roles for the Lakers next season.
Young is just three seasons removed from averaging 17 points per game for the Washington Wizards. He maintained that pace early in the next campaign before getting moved to the Los Angeles Clippers. His playing time has dipped ever since.
Moving to the Lakers should provide him with an opportunity to get back on track with more chances to see the floor. One of the biggest problems the team faced last season was a lack of secondary scoring behind Kobe Bryant.
The added burden forced the longtime Lakers superstar to overextend himself at times in an attempt to carry the team. Young should help take some of that pressure off Bryant's shoulders once the face of the franchise returns to full strength.
Which player will be the better addition for the Lakers?
Finding a way to become more efficient offensively has been the biggest hurdle. It all comes down to shot selection. Young knows he must score in order to make an impact, so that pressure often causes him to jack up some bad shots.
With Steve Nash feeding him the ball, he should get more open looks and could be a big surprise for the Lakers next season.
As for Kaman, the best word to describe him is steady. He isn't going to end up on the highlight-reel very often and isn't going to bring the same type of defensive presence that Howard did, but he's a reliable option in the middle.
He struggled to carve out a niche for himself with the Dallas Mavericks last season. That shouldn't be an issue with the Lakers. He most likely steps right into a starting role playing alongside Pau Gasol in the frontcourt.
Kaman probably won't provide 19 points and nine rebounds like he did at his peak, but 15 points and eight boards is a reasonable expectation if he can stay healthy.
Ultimately, Young and Kaman aren't franchise-changing players. They aren't going to carry the Lakers to the playoffs without a lot of help from the stars. But they are solid contributors that could outproduce expectations if given the opportunity.
Every team needs those types of players to succeed.