The style of play in the NBA is trending more towards small-ball, but Los Angeles Lakers are doing something different. On Monday, the team agreed to a partially guaranteed contract with seven-foot, center Andrew Bogut for the veteran minimum of $2.3 million over one season.
Bogut was injured for most of last season after breaking his leg early in the season and opted to use, “an extended period of immobilization and healing stimulation,” instead of surgery. The 11-year veteran has a career average of 10.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Adding the former NBA champion and one-time Utah Ute big-man gives the current Lakers’ roster eleven players that stand taller than six foot nine. By comparison, no other team in the NBA has more than eight players.
The Lakers will also employ one of the tallest starting lineups in the NBA from positions one through five. Rookie point guard Lonzo Ball is taller than the average point, standing six foot six, and second-year player Brandon Ingram is rumored to be almost seven-feet tall after growing this off-season.
Head coach Luke Walton is familiar with Bogut, having coached him while the two were a part of the 2015 NBA champion Golden State Warriors, and will value having a respected rim-protector standing in the back of his defense. Walton will now have four legitimate centers and three power-forwards to rotate along with playing certain small forwards at the four in small-ball scenarios.
The added height in the Lakers line-up should give the team more of a shot-blocking presence than they have had in recent years. The Lakers were 28th out of 30 teams last season in protecting the rim, with only 3.9 blocks per game.
Another dimension the front office focused on this year was perimeter defense. General Manger Rob Pelinka signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope earlier this off-season to a one year, $18 million contract. Caldwell-Pope is considered an elite defender by many of his peers and his athleticism on the wing will also be felt on the fast-break.
The team also addressed their need on the perimeter by drafting former Big East Player of the Year and Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Hart from Villanova. A senior last season, Hart also won the NCAA championship during his junior season in college.
There is only nine more days until the Lakers kick off the preseason with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in nearby Anaheim, California at the Honda Center. The Lakers will play other preseason games in Las Vegas and Ontario, California as well, in addition to having a couple games at Staples Center.
Since Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario is only about a 20 minute drive from the Ball family’s hometown of Chino Hills, California. The energy for this preseason game could be unlike any other place in the league.