The Los Angeles Lakers had the biggest off-season of any NBA club as they recruited four-time MVP LeBron James. The former Cavaliers and Heat star and 3-time champion has had a fairly successful year on the court but there’s been a lot of criticism of how the team was structured around him.
Instead of surrounding LeBron with other top-tier shooters which has been the blueprint for success in teams that have been based around him, the Lakers chose to surround him with playmaker types of players.
Magic Johnson spoke last year before about the decisions that the Lakers franchise decided to make pre-season about their roster.
"For us, we're just trying to have a great season, get into the playoffs, and then we'll see what happens," Magic Johnson said in July. "You're not gonna out-Golden State Golden State. Everybody's talking about the Lakers don't have shooting. Oh, we have shooting. But we saw all the teams in the playoffs that had shooting; they got beat.
"Let's break it down: Philly had two great shooters, but Boston took the shooters out. And who ended up winning? Boston. And they had a lot of guys that can break defenses down, and shoot. And they were committed to the defensive end. That's why Boston advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, and they did that with two of their best players out... You don't build a team just for the regular season. You gotta build it for the playoffs, as well... And we got guys now who are winners. LeBron James brings a championship mentality to our team. So does (Rajon) Rondo, he's won a championship with Boston. And then JaVale McGee, he used to play for Golden State, he's won two championships."
The plan played out with LeBron being picked up in the off-season and a bunch of playmakers to make up the rest of the Lakers roster.
According to Dave McMenamin, it turns out that LeBron himself was not a fan of the way the franchise structured their roster and line-up around him.
For the first time in years, James wasn't surrounded by elite-level shooters. And for the first time in years, his team wasn't going to be playing in the postseason. What did James think of the Lakers' grand experiment? How did he view the idea of prioritizing playmaking over shooting.
"That experiment?" James said of the roster construction for his first season in L.A.
James stared out onto the court for a moment, turned his attention back to the conversation, pursed his lips and stuck out his tongue as he trumpeted air out of his mouth, making a raspberry sound.
The Los Angeles Lakers can turn this around next season, the team still has arguably the greatest player of all time in the league. If the franchise can fix up the other players around him and have some high-quality shooters playing with LeBron, the Lakers may be able to break their playoffs drought.