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Predicting Los Angeles Lakers' Final 15-Man Roster

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2014

Predicting Los Angeles Lakers' Final 15-Man Roster

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    Jeremy Lin and Kobe Bryant will be sharing the same backcourt during the 2014-15 NBA season.
    Jeremy Lin and Kobe Bryant will be sharing the same backcourt during the 2014-15 NBA season.Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers' summer wasn't filled with star acquisitions the way many fans hoped it would be, but significant changes have been made to the roster entering the 2014-15 NBA season.

    Think about it: Pau Gasol is out, and Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle and Ed Davis are in. Jeremy Lin is also in with players such as Steve Blake (mid 2014) and Jodie Meeks having moved on.

    Even Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the most recognized figures in franchise history, can be counted as a major addition, as he played just six games throughout the entire 2013-14 campaign.

    Will L.A. be a contender this upcoming season? Not likely. But the organization can find solace in the fact that it hasn't sat still while it waits for substantial change in 2015 and 2016.

Point Guards

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    1. Steve Nash

    2. Jeremy Lin

    3. Jordan Clarkson

     

    A healthy Steve Nash would do wonders for this team, but the 2013-14 campaign showed us why we can't bank on that happening next season.

    Nash himself is realistic about his expectations, stating, "I’m obviously not trying to overdo it so I can allow that nerve to settle down perhaps and be less irritating. It has worked so far, but I would hate to say this is where it will be like once I join the rigors of an NBA schedule."

    Courtesy of Mark Medina of InsideSoCal.com, this quote puts into words why Jeremy Lin will have a chance to become the go-to floor general early in his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Along with the two proven players, L.A. has a rookie contributor in Jordan Clarkson. According to Mitch Kupchak, via ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin, the prospect has "great size," is a "good defender" and has something to prove after coming out of school early.

    All that said, this position will be all about Lin and his attempt to make a name for himself once again. Don't expect Linsanity Part II, but don't be shocked if he proves his worth in a contract season.

Shooting Guards

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    1. Kobe Bryant

    2. Xavier Henry

     

    Kobe Bryant is back, but the question is: How closely will he resemble the 2-guard who's dominated this league for so many years? Doubting the Mamba is never safe for any critic, but assuming he'll find superstar production is also a risk.

    According to Bryant himself, "I'm 100 percent." That quote, courtesy of an interview on Brazilian television (h/t LA Times, Fox Sports West) is a good sign for fans who believe Bryant is still elite when health is a non-issue.

    When Bryant goes to the pine, Xavier Henry will have his opportunity to put together a solid showing in another contract year. He averaged 10.0 points in 21.1 minutes per game last season, but injuries limited him to just 43 contests.

    With health having been a concern for both of these guys in 2013-14, chances are we'll see Nick Young play some time at the 2 throughout the year as well. Finding another option in free agency seems like a necessity at this juncture, which could happen when L.A. finalizes its 15-man roster.

Small Forward

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    1. Nick Young

    2. Wesley Johnson

     

    The small forward position is thin for the Los Angeles Lakers. We all know what Nick Young can do on the offensive end, but he and Wesley Johnson will be expected to hold down the 3 spot by themselves if no additional moves are made to bolster the position.

    According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Carlos Boozer was "penciled in as the Lakers' starting small forward" after the team picked him up. This would move Young to the sixth-man role L.A. needs, but it would also take the former Chicago Bulls big man out of his comfort zone, as the 32-year-old has played power forward throughout his career.

    Overall, the Lakers have done a sufficient job of filling the roster, but as Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley put it, "The exception to that assessment is the small forward position.

    "There, the Lakers are no better equipped than last season's 27-win outfit—and could be even worse."

Power Forwards

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    1. Carlos Boozer

    2. Julius Randle

    3. Ed Davis

    4. Ryan Kelly

     

    With Pau Gasol out, you're going to see a new face starting at power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Actually, you're going to see plenty of new faces at the 4, as the position has become surprisingly crowded entering the new year.

    Between drafting Julius Randle, placing a successful bid on Boozer and signing Ed Davis in free agency, the only familiar face is Ryan Kelly. Finding minutes could be difficult if the Lakers avoid playing these four at center, but having too much depth and talent is a good problem for an organization that just hasn't looked like itself the past two seasons.

    The big question is: How long will Boozer start? ESPN's Arash Markazi offers his insight, stating, "Nash and Boozer might start the season as starters but Lin and Randle will finish the season with more starts.

    If the Lakers are truly in contention for a playoff spot, expect Boozer to earn the nod for much of the year. But if this season goes anything like the last two, it should be Randle gaining more experience as a budding star of the future.

Centers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    1. Jordan Hill 

    2. Robert Sacre

     

    The Los Angeles Lakers didn't pay Jordan Hill $9 million per season for the next two years to sit him on the bench. He'll be the starter, and chances are, 2014-15 will be his best campaign to date.

    Whether or not you believe the 27-year-old was overpaid, you can find solace in the fact that he hasn't yet shown how good he can be. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season in just 20.8 minutes per contest, and those numbers translate to 16.7 and 12.8, respectively, per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

    Behind Hill you'll find that Robert Sacre is the only other legitimate center. He showed flashes of productive play last season, but chances are we'll see the team go small at times with guys such as Boozer, Davis and Randle playing side by side in the frontcourt when Hill goes to the bench.

The Final Spots

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    1. Michael Beasley, F

    2. Roscoe Smith, F

     

    The Los Angeles Lakers currently have 12 players under contract, according to HoopsHype.com. Jordan Clarkson is expected to be No. 13, as reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, leaving the question: Who will be the final two players to make the cut?

    As the Lakers continue to procure talent, Michael Beasley comes to mind. ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin reported in July that the 25-year-old worked out for L.A., and while some time has passed without significant news, Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com confirmed on Aug. 9 that both parties are still interested.

    Although Beasley would be a decent-sized name to bring in, he would have to have the expectation that playing time will only be earned. The same theme, as it pertains to minutes, would be true for Roscoe Smith, who accepted an invitation to Lakers training camp earlier this summer.

    If both players are willing and able to play the 3, both would bring versatility and depth to a position that needs both. Beasley and Smith would likely be end-of-the-bench rotation players, but on a roster in transition, both would be used in different ways as Byron Scott tests players with the future of the franchise in mind.

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