Stat Projections for Each Los Angeles Lakers Offseason Addition
They may have their eyes on a postseason return in 2014-15, but the Los Angeles Lakers won't get enough production out of their newcomers to make it there.
Even following a disappointing and uncharacteristic 27-55 season, L.A. did not enter this summer with rebuilding in mind at all. Kobe Bryant's contract, worth $48.5 million over the next two years, sets the mandate: He's the cornerstone of this team, and the rest of the available cap space will be devoted to piecing together a winner around him.
Enter veteran aid in the form of Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis, as well as Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson via the draft. It will be up to them to compensate for the losses of Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks, among others, and to complement Kobe in his final championship pursuits.
That task is daunting, and the Lakers will need these offseason pickups to gel and play their best basketball right away. Whether that will happen is another matter.
2013-14 stats (with Chicago Bulls): 76 GP, 28.2 MPG, 13.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.3 BPG, 0.7 SPG, 45.6 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 76.7 FT%
2014-15 stat projection: 64 GP, 29.8 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.3 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 46.3 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 72.6 FT%
Here's the good news: Regardless what ESPN forecasts, Carlos Boozer will not be the worst newcomer of the summer.
Nevertheless, he will turn 33 less than a month into the upcoming season and is very clearly on the downswing of his career.
The days of him averaging 20 and 10 with the Utah Jazz are very long gone, but he still began his Bulls tenure in 2010-11 putting up 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Though he missed just nine total games over the past two years, his time with coach Tom Thibodeau took its toll: Boozer never hit those statistical marks from his first Bulls season again and has become noticeably slower and stiffer.
His field-goal percentage in 2013-14 was the worst of his career by a full two points, and his scoring the lowest since he was a rookie. He still has the strength to muscle his way to points inside but has lost the quickness to create space outside the restricted area and get his shot off.
Considering Boozer will likely be Los Angeles' starter at power forward, the scoring drop-off is discouraging but not a major issue. Factor in his turnstile defense without Joakim Noah to help him out from the center position, though, and Boozer is set to be a net minus for the Lakers.
2013-14 stats (NCAA, with Missouri): 35 GP, 35.1 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.2 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 44.8 FG%, 28.1 3P%, 83.1 FT%
2014-15 stat projection: 16 GP, 8.2 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.1 BPG, 0.2 SPG, 41.4 FG%, 32.9 FG%, 80.3 FT%
Selected with the 46th pick in the 2014 draft, Clarkson has the first-step explosiveness and decisiveness to attack off the bounce against NBA defenders, but he'll barely get any opportunity to do so this season.
At this point in his development, the 6'5" Mizzou product is just a shooting guard. He was utilized as a combo guard in college but doesn't have the speed or wingspan to defend the point at his size, nor the carefulness and court awareness to operate as a distributor.
He projects as a capable scorer a year or so down the line, but that's contingent on his becoming at least an average three-point shooter. Guards who can only attack the basket suffer against defenses committed to protecting the rim, so Clarkson's offensive skill won't be able to shine until he rounds out his game.
In the meantime, he's a raw project, and he's behind Bryant, Nick Young and Xavier Henry on the depth chart; even if L.A. wants to give him some minutes at point guard, he'll come after Lin and Steve Nash there, too. Expect plenty of DNPs and time in the D-League.
2013-14 stats (with Memphis Grizzlies): 63 GP, 15.2 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.7 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 53.4 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 52.8 FT%
2014-15 stat projection: 70 GP, 24.8 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.2 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 52.5 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 57.7 FT%
This will give you a sense of how much Los Angeles needs Davis' interior defense: Among players returning from last season, Wesley Johnson led all Lakers with 0.97 blocks per game in 2013-14.
That facet of the Lakers' game was already shaky before they were set to give Boozer starter minutes. Now that Gasol and Chris Kaman are gone, Jordan Hill, another natural power forward, will be the starter at center, and the springy Davis is the sole L.A. player who could be considered an intimidating rim protector.
Like Boozer, Davis will finish inside and not provide much more further away, but whereas Booz once had the technique to work the mid-range effectively, Davis has yet to add that part of the game to his offensive repertoire. Even at 25 years old, he has no more post-up or jump-shooting ability than he did when he entered the league five years ago.
Playing with the Memphis Grizzlies for the past season-and-a-half, Davis' potential earned him just 15.2 minutes per game. He'll get more minutes in L.A., which will be in line with what he got when he started his career as a Toronto Raptor.
Considering he hasn't progressed much at all since entering the league, his numbers should fall in line with those early stats.
2013-14 stats (with Houston Rockets): 71 GP, 28.9 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, 0.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 44.6 FG%, 35.8 3P%, 82.3 FT%
2014-15 stat projection: 77 GP, 33.4 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.5 APG, 0.4 BPG, 1.6 SPG, 44.3 FG%, 36.8 3P%, 81.2 FT%
He won't exactly bring full-blown Linsanity to Los Angeles, but Lin will be the best contributor of this incoming bunch, posting career-best stats as the Lakers' starting point guard.
Lin made a name for himself on the New York Knicks creating with the ball in his hands, getting his own shots and penetrating into the lane. Last season, his assist numbers dipped sharply as the Houston Rockets overflowed with facilitators; not only was Patrick Beverley also getting play at point, but James Harden and Chandler Parsons both dished enough to diminish Lin's importance.
He still has the drive-and-kick ability, though, and the Lakers will certainly want him sucking the defense in to generate open looks for Kobe and friends outside. Nash is too old and too hobbled to do that job anymore, and while Lin won't come close to matching his teammate's heyday quality, he'll be a much more capable point guard than L.A. had last season.
This is where you'd point out that Kendall Marshall led the team with 8.8 assists per game last season. But Marshall posted those numbers in Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense and lacks Lin's dynamism as a dribbler and scorer. Lin will provide a fuller package at that position.
That won't just give Lin the start in L.A.; now that Bryant's showing his age, Lin will lead the Lakers in minutes. Not only will he have the opportunity to show what he can do, he'll set new career marks just by virtue of staying on the court longer.
2013-14 stats (NCAA, with Kentucky): 40 GP, 33.8 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 50.1 FG%, 16.7 3P%, 70.6 FT%
2014-15 stat projection: 72 GP, 20.6 MPG, 10.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 46.8 FG%, 10.0 3P%, 71.4 FT%
L.A. brought in Boozer and Davis after drafting Julius Randle, but the seventh overall draft pick is still the most talented power forward on the roster.
As is the case with most rookies, though, Randle will need to refine his skills before he can put them to best use on the court.
At 6'9", 250 pounds, he has the nimbleness and comfort putting the ball on the floor to work well as a face-up forward. However—and you can probably guess what's coming at this point—Randle isn't effective enough as a mid-range shooter to maximize his effectiveness with this approach.
Right now, he just has little to no confidence in his shooting stroke. Randle didn't tell me this. I know it from watching him pass on open jumpers for more difficult shots closer to the basket.
And I know it because he took just 1.3 jumpers a game and converted only 17.3 percent of them at Kentucky, per DraftExpress' Derek Bodner via Synergy Sports Technology.
He'll still be able to throw his weight around under the rim, though not with the bull-in-a-china-shop advantage he had in college. No matter, because his speed will be his biggest edge, not his size.
Though he'll be unpleasant to body up, Randle is scarily fast for a guy with Zach Randolph's build. Combine that with a high motor and a nose for the ball, and he'll be an active and effective rebounder from day one.
There will be games in which that athleticism is all he needs to succeed, but more often than not he'll have his preferred spots denied and his production limited. Randle will someday be L.A.'s starter at power forward in the playoffs, but in 2014-15 don't expect him to start or the Lakers to succeed just yet.