Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James—NBA teammates at last.
Here's a look at what the Lakers' starting lineup and roster might look like heading into the 2021-22 season:
- PG: Russell Westbrook / Kendrick Nunn
- SG: Wayne Ellington / Malik Monk / Austin Reaves / Joel Ayayi
- SF: LeBron James / Talen Horton-Tucker / Trevor Ariza / Kent Bazemore / Alfonzo McKinnie
- PF: Anthony Davis / Carmelo Anthony
- C: Dwight Howard / Marc Gasol
There are a lot of questions for this Lakers team. The overall talent may be impressive, but the fit remains questionable.
Westbrook has been tasked with most of his team's ball-handling duties for nearly all of his career. How will he adjust to playing off the ball at times when James initiates the offense? And what kind of floor spacing will the team have with Westbrook's poor three-point shooting (31.5 percent from beyond the arc last season)?
The spacing would be helped if Davis was willing to be a full-time center. But he's been hesitant to do that in the past, given the wear-and-tear the center position takes. Still, a starting lineup featuring both Howard and Westbrook would destroy any spacing. It's a sacrifice AD may ultimately have to make, as he's done in postseasons past.
Ellington and Monk are good fits for their shooting, but both raise major questions given their defensive deficiencies. Will Horton-Tucker be back, or will he get a big offer the Lakers can't realistically match? How much do players like Ariza and Bazemore have left in the tank on the wing?
Anthony is a great pickup as a backup power forward who can get buckets for the bench unit, especially since he's expanded his range to incorporate more three-point shooting into his repertoire (40.9 percent from deep last year). If Monk and Anthony are leading the second unit, the Lakers at least will be able to score when the top guns are resting.
There are no two ways about it—this is kind of a strange roster. Granted, if the Westbrook experiment goes well, the rest of the pieces behind the team's Big Three may not matter as much. And the Lakers team that won the title two seasons ago had a roster that raised some eyebrows initially too.
So it's a wait-and-see proposition in Los Angeles. With LeBron and AD, you always have a shot. But there seem to be more pathways for this whole thing going wrong than in years past.