After some internal problems, the Lakers roared through the post season en route to their second consecutive championship. If a couple of needs can be addressed, there is no reason to think that they can't go for three.
Shaq has pledged to come back at the beginning of the season in great shape. This is huge because there are likely to be a few changes in the roster, particularly at the power forward spot. Horace Grant is an unrestricted free agent and unless he takes a huge pay cut, probably will not be back. Robert Horry is more of a finesse forward and will need help against the power forwards in the West. That said, the Lakers need to get a little bigger up front. Greg Foster is not a real banger and even though Mark "Boogie Shoes" Madsen is, he is a little too small. Stanislav Medvedenko is still a project but the Lakers like him. Derek Fisher has provided some stability for the PG spot and Tyronn Lue had a great series against Allen Iverson in the finals. What may be the most important thing for the Lakers may be the fact that Kobe Bryant has learned to dominate a game without dominating his teammates. His growth over the last 2 months of the season was amazing. I have never been one to criticize his effort, just his decision making from time to time. I am thoroughly impressed with his transformation. With Ron Harper, Isaiah Rider and Brian Shaw being question marks for next season, Devean George needs to show improvement over the summer to help out at the swing positions. Rick Fox was steady and did a lot of the dirty work that was instrumental in the Lakers success.
Draft Pick & Free Agent Acquisitions
My pick at this point of our Mock Draft is Eric Chenowith from Kansas. He has a touch and good range for a big man. More importantly at 7'1, 270 he has the size that the Lakers are lacking. Although not particularly athletic, he can rebound and provide a low post presence for the second unit. Also with the new zone rules, Shaq, Chenowith, and Horry down low with Fisher and Kobe out top could make a very impressive zone. Speaking of the zone you need guys who can knock down the open shot and give Shaq and Kobe room to operate. There are a few players that will be available with either a second round pick or perhaps undrafted free agents that would fit in well with the Lakers system. Brandon Wolfram, at 6'9 230 pounds out of UTEP has an excellent shot out to 18 feet and can score in the post. He also is a very capable rebounder. These are the things that Christian Laettner is alleged to be but this kid is younger, cheaper, healthier and probably not half the locker room problem that Laettner is. He can play either forward spot to boot! We know that Phil Jackson likes big guards. O.K. how about Cookie Belcher from Nebraska? He is an outstanding defender and has a good outside shot and is a very intelligent player. Sounds like a young Ron Harper. There have been some rumblings about Tyronn Lue going elsewhere. If this happens, how about Rashad Phillips from Detroit. He is an excellent 3 point shooter and playmaker. He is a little undersized but more than makes up for it with his quickness. My last suggestion is Jarron Collins from Stanford. He has size and skills which could help the Lakers frontcourt depth. Plus he could teach fellow Stanford alum Mark Madsen a few dance steps.