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Breaking Down the Lakers’ Free Agent Signings

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Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka made good on their word and got busy this July as the Lakers signed what seemed like a procession of free agents this offseason, headlined by the momentous acquisition of LeBron James. Not yet satisfied after snagging the best player in the world, the team’s front office went after some other notable free agents to complement the King. Though they may appear to be a rather random gathering of veterans at first glance, here are some of the ways that the Lakers’ latest free agent signings will help the team:

LeBron James

No doubt the undisputed leader of the team, James fills in the top dog void that the Lakers sorely lacked all of last season. Los Angeles really struggled down the stretch in close games without a designated closer, losing in many contests that they otherwise might have won with an alpha to lead the pack. As a constant pick-and-roll threat, powerful transition finisher, and go-to scorer while also being one of the greatest offensive facilitators of all time, James’ championship experience just might put the Lakers back into the playoff picture. What remains to be seen is how James will dictate the other end of the floor, as he has been criticized for taking defensive possessions off in the past.

Rajon Rondo

Rondo gives the Lakers another much-needed playmaker on offense. The 13-year veteran has already given NBA fans a glimpse of what he can do as floor general of a young team during his brief stint with the New Orleans Pelicans. Last season, Rondo put up sensational numbers, especially in the playoffs when he averaged close to a triple double with 10.6 points, 12.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game. The addition of the 32-year-old gives the Lakers more depth at the point guard position, forming a solid passing duo with backcourt mate Lonzo Ball. Though it remains to be seen who will end up with the starting spot at the one, the Lakers have to be happy with adding another player who can set the table for others.

JaVale McGee

The high-flying McGee adds another transition scorer and reliable finisher at the basket for the Lakers. With the playmaking capabilities of James, Rondo and Ball, McGee may find himself on the receiving end of many passes. He is also a shot-blocking threat and intimidator for many opposing players who find themselves in the paint, which the Lakers needed after the departure of Brook Lopez, the team’s former defensive anchor in the post. Though he won’t create for himself or be a legitimate scoring threat, McGee will certainly be able to capitalize if the defense focuses too heavily on the other Lakers, who have proven to be talented scorers.

Lance Stephenson

Even though the season hasn’t even started, Lakers fans may not need any more production from Stephenson because the forward joining a roster with James was so entertaining already. Jokes aside, Stephenson is yet another capable playmaker and effective scoring threat. More importantly, he can create opportunities for himself as well as his teammates and keep defenses on their heels. With a good amount of playoff experience and a ton of self-confidence, Stephenson may also emerge as one of the team’s emotional leaders.

Michael Beasley

After having trouble finding his place in the NBA and dealing with injuries in recent years, Beasley really proved his worth after an impressive year with the New York Knicks. Beasley was often the primary scorer for the Knicks after Kristaps Porzingis went down with injury and did not disappoint with the opportunity he had, putting up multiple 30-point performances throughout the season. The 976 total points he scored on 51 percent shooting in his resurgence last year was the most the 10-year veteran scored since 2011. Beasley provides a player who can create his own shot and adds even more depth at a loaded forward position. The Lakers can definitely benefit from Beasley’s scoring spark off the bench.

Although the new Lakers collectively bring a substantial amount of grit and experience, there are some legitimate concerns about how long it will take for such a unique mix of players to play well together. In addition, the team still lacks perimeter shooting, although Svi Mykhailiuk’s long-range display in the Summer League is very encouraging. The mix also contains some notably big personalities that may make locker room interactions a bit awkward. It will be interesting to see how Luke Walton decides to handle the situation as the sudden influx of veterans try to mentor and fit in with the established young core.

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