Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers should have been an ideal team from which to find players worthy of a roster spot. They didn’t play defense, scored a lot of points and Mike D’Antoni was their coach. For some reason, however, only a couple players found their way to fantasy teams consistently. This year will be much of the same.
So long as he’s healthy, Kobe Bryant provides enough across the board to warrant a roster spot. How high in drafts he’ll go will depend solely on how long managers think he can remain on the court. Head coach Byron Scott anticipates 23 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. Anything close to that would be a miracle for his fantasy owners. If Bryant does get hurt, Nick Young is to step in to those minutes but has never produced anything besides scoring in his career consistently.
At the point guard position, it’s still unclear as to who might start. Jeremy Lin seems the most likely to get consistent minutes and has been productive in the past; but he has not shown the ability to do so alongside a ball-dominant guard like Bryant. If Steve Nash gets the bulk of those minutes, he could provide threes and assists at a solid shooting percentage, regardless of who is back there with him.
Wesley Johnson showed stretches of versatility last year. He was one of few players in the NBA to average one three-pointer, steal and block per game and played in 79 of 82 games – numbers due in part to D’Antoni’s playing him at both forward spots. As the power forward position is so clogged, it would be hard to see Scott playing him there. By extension, it would be hard to foresee similar statistics.
As mentioned above, Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle, Ed Davis and Jordan Hill all play power forward naturally. Hill and Davis will probably play mostly center and Boozer has already said he’s preparing to do so as well. Until we know more about how that rotation will play out, only Hill and Boozer can be even mildly interesting. If Randle gets minutes, however, his versatility can lead to decent scoring, rebounding and passing numbers, as well as high shooting percentages.
All that’s not even taking into account the slower pace at which Scott prefers to coach. Last year, the Lakers averaged 103 points per game and played at the second-fastest pace in the league. The highest a Scott-coached team ever ranked in terms of pace: ninth; and that was during the 2003 season when the game overall was significantly slower. The faster the pace of play, the more possessions per game and more opportunity for statistics. Scott’s coaching style does not lend itself to fantasy ownership of his players.
This is all speculation and more can be understood once we see what rotations will look like. But, as of now, it’s hard to imagine more than a couple Lakers worthy of a roster spot consistently throughout the season. Of course, you could always simply start whoever is matched up against the Lakers on any given night, given their defensive makeup.
Anthony F. Irwin is an NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA Football contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Send him an email at Anthony.F.Irwin@gmail.com.