The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers have a plethora of new faces.
The Lakers won the title and improved. It’s rare that you say that about a team fresh off the title. However, General Manager Rob Pelinka didn’t want this to be a one-trophy squad.
We all know the Lakers made some big-time acquisitions in the offseason. Now, through a few games, let’s see how the new faces of the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers are doing.
Los Angeles Lakers New Faces’ Performances So Far
A breath of fresh air to this Lakers team. That’s the best way to describe Dennis Schröder thus far. The Lakers desperately needed a playmaker and shot creator off the bench. Surprisingly to some, Schröder has been starting and looks to remain in the starting five.
Schröder has a silky-smooth game and is a good shooter. The fact that Schröder can bring the ball up the court on a consistent basis and pass at a high level will help ease the load for LeBron James.
Yes, it’s early but Schröder nearly had a triple-double on opening night. He backed that up with a fantastic Christmas Day game, finishing with 18 points and six dimes. Through four games, Schröder is averaging over 16 points a game and will only get better and more comfortable in Head Coach Frank Vogel’s system.
The addition of Schröder has been fantastic, and the Lakers have already begun extension talks to lock him up for the next few years. If the Lakers can have some continuity at the point guard position, that would be huge.
Wes Matthews was the first Lakers signee in free agency. Matthews signed for the vet minimum and was touted as a 3-and-D guy who can still provide plenty of minutes and quality defense.
Well, Matthews has severely underwhelmed in the preseason and the first couple of weeks for the Lakers. He has a total of eight points. Safe to say, that’s not exactly why they brought him on board.
Marc Gasol has not looked good at all. Can Gasol still contribute? Absolutely.
He has to find his role on the team, and playing with Lebron always takes some getting used to.
The drop off from Howard to Gasol has been apparent early on in the season. However, the addition of Montrezl Harrell and how many minutes he plays is what’s going to be important.
Then came Sunday, and Gasol was fantastic. Gasol was hitting threes, dishing to everybody, and playing stout defense. It took a couple of games, but perhaps Gasol has found his niche with this Lakers’ squad.
Gasol was his old self against the Timberwolves, finishing with 12 points, seven boards, and eight dimes. The big man also added four blocks, and James praised Gasol’s high-IQ for the game over and over again.
Gasol has such a high basketball IQ, can shoot at a decent clip, and is arguably one of the best passing bigs in the Association. If Gasol can play like he did Sunday, it’ll be huge for the defending champs.
Let’s save the best for last, shall we?
Harrell has been fantastic for the Lakers. His spot next to Anthony Davis just makes so much sense. Not only that, but Schröder and Harrell have already established so much chemistry. The pick-and-roll action between the two is huge, especially once James and Davis take a breather.
The thing that makes Harrell stand out the most is his energy. You can feel the energy shift when he steps on the floor, and his gritty play and tenacity is something this team desperately needs after the departure of Dwight Howard.
Harrell has provided that spark and energy off the bench, and in turn is averaging 15 a game early on this season. If he can buy in on defense, this Lakers’ group will be really tough to get past.
All in all, the Lakers’ new additions are paying dividends- for the most part. The 5-man lineup of Schröder, James, Harrell, Davis. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is going to be tough to stop for any team.
The rotations for Vogel are endless, and we’ve already seen him go 10 and 11 deep early in this season. That seems to be a trend that continues throughout the year.
So Far, So Good for the New Faces
The Lakers’ new faces have already paid huge dividends. Keeping James and Davis fresh for the playoff stretch is important, and with a solid nucleus of guys, Vogel has that luxury.
The Lakers are in fantastic shape, and Schröder and Harrell are going to give opposing teams fits. Oh, and we didn’t even mention returning Lakers Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope, and others. The Lakers are really good, and a repeat is not out of the question.
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