Lakers: Even with new additions the interior will hold the team back

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Julius Randle (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Julius Randle (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers are a significantly better team heading into next season than they were at the end of last season. However, holes still persist in LA.

President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have done a great job in their short amount of time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Whether it be trading away a young asset, drafting a polarizing point guard or signing key role players, this Lakers team looks a lot better than they have in some time.

New additions to the Lakers include Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In the draft, Los Angeles picked up Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant. The two biggest additions were Lopez and Ball, with guys like Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma and Hart filling in key roles.

Lopez was acquired in a deal that freed up the point guard position for Ball. Lopez and the Celtics 2017 first round pick were sent to Los Angeles in exchange for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. Not only did the Lakers open a path for Ball, they got rid of the awful $48 million owed to Mozgov over the next three years.

This seems to be a significant upgrade at center for the Lakers. Lopez averaged 20.5 points per game last year, the third highest of all centers. In comparison, Mozgov and Ivica Zubac combined to average 14.9 points per game last year.

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However, Lopez is not all that he looks to be. While he is a good scoring and gives the Lakers range at the center position, Los Angeles will still struggle immensely down low.

First and foremost, Lopez scored a lot last season but was not that efficient. Lopez played on an awful Nets team that relied on him to shoot the ball a lot. Lopez’ .474 field goal percentage ranked 18th in centers last season. Not horrible, but he is not the lights out scorer that his numbers would suggest.

However, what is going to hurt the Lakers down low is their rebounding and interior defense. Lopez was 32nd in centers in rebounding last year, posting just 5.4 boards per game. While Julius Randle’s third best 8.6 rebounds per game will aid that deficiency, it is still a deficiency nonetheless.

Not to mention that the Lakers already struggled on defense, particularly interior defense. Los Angeles had the worst defensive rating on for last season and allowed the third most points in the paint. While Lopez can give Los Angeles more blocks than they would get without him, his limited mobility will expose holes in the inside.

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The team may be much better at scoring next season and will likely see an immense improvement record wise. Some even predict the Lakers to sneak into an eighth seed. However, the interior in Los Angeles will ultimately hold them back from doing so.