It’s been a rough offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers so far. Dwight Howard is no longer wearing the purple-and-gold. While dealing with Kobe Bryant recovering from a devastating Achilles tear, the diminishing production of Pau Gasol and a lackluster and unreliable bench, the Lakers are in an unfamiliar position. They are fighting to remain relevant. With that said, the Lakers have moved very quickly in acquiring pieces they believe will help fill some gaps in their team and compete in the increasingly talented Western Conference. Earlier this month, they signed free agent and former All-Star Chris Kaman to a one-year deal. Also added to the team were young scoring guard Nick Young and point guard Jordan Farmar. None of these players are marquee. None of these players can replace Kobe while he is injured. None of these players will provide the dominance the Lakers thought Dwight Howard would. Nonetheless, they can provide many things that the Lakers are in desperate need of.
Kaman is not Dwight Howard, nor is he Andrew Bynum. In his career, Kaman has averaged almost 12 points and eight rebounds per game. Although he is not a stat filler like Howard or Bynum, he can provide many things the Lakers need. He is a big man. More importantly, he is a big man who will provide a spark off the bench.
Last season, the Lakers averaged 25.8 bench points, third-worst in the league.Having a 7-footer who can provide some low-post scoring off the bench will be definitely be an upgrade from last season.
The Lakers do not need him to be the All-Star he was in 2010, (yes, believe it or not, Chris Kaman was an All-Star) but those 12 points and eight boards a night sure would help.
Nick Young is not afraid to shoot. Better yet, he makes some of the shots he takes, which is more than can be said for most of the Lakers bench. Last season, the Lakers relied on seasoned veteran Antawn Jamison to provide a majority on the bench scoring. As the season went on, this hope seemed comical as Jamison averaged 9.4 points, a career low.
For his career, Young averages about 11 points per game, but has been known as a streaky shooter and has the ability to catch fire and make a huge impact on games.
Although coming off the bench puts Young in a diminished role, he should be given significant minutes that will allow him to contribute to the team in a way that was expected of Jamison.
When Kobe returns, Young’s shooting ability will help to stretch the floor and create more scoring opportunities in the post for Pau Gasol and Kaman.
Jordan Farmar has never been a stat filler, nor will he ever will be. His value to the Lakers goes far beyond anything that can be seen in the box score, he has the trust of Kobe Bryant. Kobe trusts him to make that jump shot, to make the extra pass.
Farmar, having been with the Lakers during their championship runs of 2009 and 2010, has been through the unforgiving trenches of the NBA Finals with Kobe. Kobe trusts him to make the right decision when the heat is on, which has proven to be invaluable to the Lakers in recent years. The Lakers have welcomed him back with open arms and he will have no problem return to LA and picking up right back where he left off.
None of these players will see their jerseys hang in the rafters of Staples Center, but at this time and on this Lakers team, they can provide a much-needed spark off the bench. Kaman’s inside presence, Young’s shooting and scoring ability and the familiarity Jordan Farmar brings back will help the Lakers during this troubling time. Maybe, just maybe, the Lakers will be relevant this year.