In an article on ESPN this week, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka spoke about constructing the Lakers roster this offseason.
Specifically, he talks about how the current Lakers roster was no accident, how they adopted a strategy different from the LeBron teams of past, focusing foremost on defensive and two-way players with a particular brand of toughness instead of making the primary goal to surround LeBron James with shooters.
In the article, he is quoted as saying:
“If your goal is to win a championship, you’ve got to look at the way the champs are assembled and how you can give yourself the best chance to take them down…”
“If you study championship and playoff teams of the past, if you look at Michael Jordan having a player like Dennis Rodman, look at Kobe [Bryant]’s teams with Metta [World Peace], having a tough player that brings an edge to the game like Lance is a really nice ingredient…”
“So just because we didn’t sign sort of the poster-child shooter that is a specialist and can just make shots, we felt like we assembled a cast of guys that can really shoot the ball but also defend and be versatile. … Also, if you really study LeBron and Rajon Rondo and the way he plays, these guys are so smart at creating angles and passing. The shooting windows for our other players are gonna be bigger, so that’s gonna increase their percentages. We feel very confident in how we landed here.”
My face upon seeing the ESPN headline:
My face upon opening the article and seeing Pelinka looks as much like Rob Lowe as Rob Lowe does:
But once I got past how attracted I was to this tall handsome drink of water, I could only scoff at this re-writing of history. It’s all well and good to gear your focus to two-way players instead of primarily on shooting. He’s right that they will need a group ready to get dirty against a Warriors offense that very well could be the best of all time. And this group will need more than just good shooters on the offensive end. They will need a group of play-makers that can create points against what is also a tough Warriors defense.
Trying to accomplish that by making your main signings an aging and shotless Rajon Rondo and a player who has demonstrated zero consistency in any facet of the game in Lance Stephenson? My friend, may I suggest the ball will need to find its way into the basket at least a few times to beat this team. A shooter or two may not be a bad idea!
And all this just made me realize that Rob Pelinka is a big fan of the “trip and pretend to run” move.
We’ve all seen it, and probably done it.
You are walking along on a nice summer day. Wide open sidewalk. Sunglasses on. Strolling at a pace that YOU and only YOU get to pick. You are strong. You are independent. The world is your oyster.
All of a sudden, boom! In your blissful haze of a stroll, you miss that quarter-inch raise in the next slab of sidewalk. Your toe snags it and your upper body lunges forward. A few heads turn. A couple people snicker. One particularly lame person may feel rather frisky on that particular day and yell “sniper!” or “walk much?!”
But the jokes on them! That lunge that they saw you take because you walk with the coordination of a newborn baby deer?
Just the beginning of my jog suckers! Who looks dumb now? Wait, what did you say? Why am I jogging in a collared shirt and work pants? I’d answer you but I’m too far away and jogging too fast now SEE YA LATER BUDDY.
This is exactly what Pelinka has done. Walking along, gifted LeBron James, feeling good on a beautiful day. Need to fill out this roster though. Oh, you thought I tripped up trying to get two-way monsters like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard? No siree Bob! I’m jogging right over here to Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo, exactly where I was going the whole time.
What did you say? Why am I flying out of San Antonio? I’d answer you, but I’m too far away and flying to Stephenson’s house fast to sign him. SEE YA LATER BUDDY.