The Los Angeles Lakers will enter the 2016 season with a starting 5 that could keep them in contention for an 8th seed but their true boost to the playoffs will come with the second unit. How good can the Lakers bench be? Very.
It all begins with former 6th Man of the Year Lou Williams. Williams can play either the point or SG position, with his shooting and ability to get to the rim he will be the leader of one of the most versatile benches in the NBA.
If you need more proof as to why they will shine, here is more.
Backing up starter D’Angelo Russell will be Jose Calderon and his 40% three-point shooting. Calderon has been around the league, with his experience he can guide the second team’s offense without a hitch. The backcourt will go small with him and Williams but they can be a productive pair, especially from the perimeter. That’s all that will be needed once the Lakers send their frontcourt on the floor.
The frontcourt will have talent, size and much versatility with Larry Nance Jr, rookie Brandon Ingram, Tarik Black, Ryan Kelly and if they can come to terms with Yi Jianlian the sky could be the limit.
Nance has starter potential with his high-flying, rebounding and defensive skills. Due to constant roster changes and injuries, NBA fans were not able to see his full potential last season, but a new coach will change everything.
With Nance possible getting his share of minutes backing up Julius Randle that makes way for Ingram to get his shine behind Luol Deng. Ingram is the key, not only to the bench but possibly the entire season. If he can come in and produce like he did at Duke the Lakers will put a serious cramp in the Western Conference.
Alongside Ingram and Nance in the frontcourt will be Black and possibly Jianlian. Black has potential, he won’t give you 15 points on average but a solid defender and rebounder he will be. If Yi dons the Purple & Gold the Lakers just increased their chances of that 8th spot.
To outsiders looking in this may seem like a stretch, but remember, the Lakers were handcuffed in 2015 with Byron Scott as he had no idea what to do with such a young team. New HC Luke Walton will have his hands full but with leaders like Calderon and Williams to help guide the likes of Ingram and Nance the Lakers Bench should see a resurrection of sorts in 2016.