Anthony Davis and Lakers teammates raving about additions of Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell

Ryan Ward
6 Min Read

After winning a 17th NBA title in the franchise’s history, the Los Angeles Lakers were far from content heading into the shortest offseason in the league’s history.

The Lakers’ first big move was trading for Dennis Schroder to replace Rajon Rondo, who ultimately signed a deal with the Atlanta Hawks. This trade was surprising on many levels and immediately upgraded the backcourt, which the team has wanted to do for years.

“Off the court and on the court he’s a dog,” Markieff Morris said. “He’s competed at the highest level every night. He’s always ready to play.

“He’s going to bring it every night and we need that coming off the bench. We just need that throughout the 72-game season.”

Along with the acquisition of Schroder, the Lakers brought in the one player that finished ahead of him in the voting for NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Montrezl Harrell shocked the league when he left the Los Angeles Clippers to join the Lakers.

“He’s going to help the team a lot,” Morris said. “Another dog on the team. I would call him a junkyard dog because he does everything in the post. He battles down there and we need that on this team.”

Although it remains to be seen how these two newcomers will fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the team definitely got grittier and tougher in both the backcourt and frontcourt.

These two promising young stars are hitting the prime of their careers and will have a legitimate shot to compete for a title on a battle-tested squad with only one goal in mind heading into the 2020-21 campaign.

“They are great players,” Kyle Kuzma said. “I’m glad that we got them. Guys that are proven in this league and coming to a championship organization. Obviously, if they can buy into what we do, they’re going to be successful and successful for us.”

Despite being led by Davis and James, the Lakers weren’t the strongest team in the league when it came to their bench last season. Ultimately, that didn’t matter as they were able to come out of the bubble in Orlando, Fla. victorious, but it was definitely something that was addressed during this short offseason.

The defending NBA champions have seemingly turned a weakness into a strength.

“The second unit, which I think was one of our weaknesses last year, I think is going to be a huge strength when you add in Schroder and Montrezl,” Jared Dudley said.

Not only will the Lakers be a much-improved team off the bench, but they’ve also added players that excel defensively. The additions of Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews, Harrell and Schroder are steps in the right direction as the team tries once again to become a formidable force on defense.

“I think we added great defensive players,” Davis said. “Dennis is a pest on the ball. Wes Matthews has been known as a defender. Marc Gasol, DPOY. Trez plays hard and is great defensively.

“I think we are going to be great defensively this year. That’s what we lay our hats on, and I think that’s what is going to help us repeat. Continue to be a defensive-minded team, and I think that the guys that we brought in their roles on teams have been to be locked down defensively and guard some of the best guys at their position.

“Coming here and being part of a team who wants to play defense I think is going to help our team tremendously.”

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel will have some work to do to get the team’s new additions up to speed with such a quick start to the season on Dec. 22, but he seems up for the challenge and enamored with the prospect of coaching Schroder.

Vogel is especially excited to see what Schroder and James can do together on the floor this season.

“Well, the great thing about Dennis is Dennis is effective off the basketball,” Frank Vogel said. “Attacking in second-side action and he’s effective with the basketball initiating offense. That’s why we feel like he’s a great fit to play alongside LeBron because he can play in both roles. So there’s benefits to both and we’ll evaluate as we get into camp and see what lineups are going to be best for us to win games.”

With so many moving parts in Los Angeles and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic without a bubble, there’s no telling how the 2020-21 NBA season will turn out for the Lakers.

However, the team is stacked with talent and much deeper and younger than it was last season. This bodes well for what could be the most difficult season in history for all 30 teams involved.

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Ryan is a veteran sportswriter who has covered the NBA and NFL for nearly a decade. Along with numerous exclusive interviews with professional athletes, Ryan has been credentialed by the Los Angeles Lakers since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWardLA.