The 2016 Lakers were not a fun team to follow. Not much came out of it besides receiving the 2nd pick of the draft which became Brandon Ingram, and Kobe having a memorable send off. This team was mired with an aged star who was afflicted with multiple injuries, an old school coach who did just about everything but coach, and a video scandal which was overblown involving the Lakers’s prized rookie.
Thankfully, It’s all over now. The Lakers got a new coach, and a new young player.
Summer League, Free Agency and the Olympics came and went. With the end of basketball, there is not much to do during the off-season but speculate.
So speculate everyone did, and the Lakers seemed to be a part of most rumors. Would Russell Westbrook come back to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers? What about Bill Simmons suggestion that the Lakers trade D’Angelo for Jabari Parker ? What about Okafor? Will the young core be retained? There were a LOT of things people wanted to see happen.
Not much happened in terms of making a splash in free agency, but the Lakers did do a sound job of acquiring some pieces to help with the rebuilding team.
But did you ever think about what if? How would we see what would happen if the Lakers made some of these moves? Is there a way to see the alternative universes in which some of these moves happened and how it affected the team? Because there are an infinite amount of universes where different things have happened, like the one where I am the best basketball player ever instead of being a good NBA 2k player with bad knees.
There are no ways so far to tell what happens in different universes, but I got an early copy of 2K so we shall check this shit out. Started off with a normal season, then I went on to more and more preposterous scenarios.
I went on to first sim a season with no major changes, and no trades. I think 2K may be as optimistic as some Laker fans are. They ended up winning 40 games over the season, winning 20 on the road, and 20 at home. 10th seed. This would be a long shot to happen in real life, but let’s look at stats.
D’Angelo Russell had a very good 18.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 5.7 apg statline, 43% from the field and 35% from 3, 18.9 PER, and a 52% TS%
Brandon Ingram had a good enough campaign to make first team all rookie, and ending up 2nd in Rookie of the Year vote behind Ben Simmons.
He had 14.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, and 1.8 bpg. 43% from the field and 32% from 3.
Clarkson had 12.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, and 3.6 apg.
Randle had 7.9 ppg, 8.4rpg, 2.6 apg.
Offensively, the Lakers averaged 100.4 points per game and allowing opponents to score 99.4.
This would not be too bad of a result if this happened in real life. I don’t think the Lakers will win more than 30 but if Luke can work some magic and this is the result? I’d think he’s a sorcerer. This would expedite the rebuild process so quickly and the draw to free agents would be great for the future. The young core improving this year is imperative, and I’d be more than ecstatic for 40 wins.
Daman Rangoola of Silver Screen and Roll reminded me that lifelong Laker fan and friend of the blog (he is neither of these), Bill Simmons suggested that the Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell for Jabari Parker. Makes sense right? It’s not like the Lakers have a plethora of 4’s (yes I consider Jabari more of a 4 than a 3) and it’s not like there will be a log jam or anything here. Let’s try this out.
Bucks acquire: D’Angelo Russell
Lakers acquire: Jabari Parker
The Lakers went on to a 29-53 season, with Jabari averaging 14.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. But that doesn’t matter cause now, it is Brandon Ingram’s team. The rookie from Duke averages 16 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 4 apg shooting 44% from the field and 32% from 3 all while winning Rookie of the year.
The team averaged 97 ppg awhile allowing opponents 103.4 ppg.
FIFTY SHADES OF GARY
Shoutout again to Daman for reminding me of this tweet that gained some traction, and then everyone remembered that NBA_Skits is one of those accounts that you should not go to for news. No #sources or anything to back this up, but people debated on whether or not it would be good for the Lakers.
Lakers acquire: Gary Harris and Kenneth Faried
Nuggets acquire: Julius Randle and Nick Young
The Lakers would go on to win 33 games this season, averaging 99.7 ppg, and allowing 101.7 points per game. The greatest #24 in Los Angeles history would go on to score 9.5 a game. Brandon Ingram would take home the Rookie of the Year prize here, averaging 15.1 ppg, 6.9 (nice) rpg, and 4.4 assists. D’Angelo once again lead the way with 18.5 ppg and 7.5 apg. I assume D’Angelo’s higher assist rate could be because of Faried’s contributions as a the roll man, but I can’t really isolate these stats in the game unfortunately.
LOSE MORE WITH OKAFOR
When the Lakers got the 2nd pick in the 2015 draft, it was widely regarded that they would take a big man. Whether it be Okafor or Towns left, no one really thought they would take D’Angelo Russell. But they did and I was absolutely ecstatic that they did, much to many fans’ chagrin who wanted a “Franchise Changing Big” (This would be Karl Anthony Towns, not Okafor). So the pieces rolled in.
“Did the Lakers make the right choice?”
“Will they regret not taking Okafor?”
The 76ers’s GM was being a stickler and wanted more than a straight up 1 for 1 trade, but chaos is fun. Let’s roll with it.
Lakers acquire: Jahlil Okafor and Jarryd Bayless
76ers acquire: D’Angelo Russell and Yi Jianlian
Alright, so let’s start off with win/loss record. The lakers were 32-50, 13th in the west. They allowed 104.8 points per game, being the worst defensive team in the league, offensively they were mediocre, scoring 100.2 points per game. Stats wise, let’s take a look at how the players did.
Okafor had himself a nice statline offensively. Opponents shot 49% against him and as the primary rim “defender”, this does not bide well for the defense.
Clarkson, Randle, and Ingram all had an increase in scoring.
Brandon Ingram averaged 16 points per game, missing a few games due to knee issues and still won Rookie of the Year. He finished 1st in rookie scoring, just above Buddy Hield who averaged 15.2. He also shot 43% from the field and 39% (!) from 3.
Do I think the Lakers made the right all by taking Russell? Absolutely. Wasn’t a big fan of Okafor after the tournament, and he’s a Duke guy so that also goes against him. Having an old school coach with a post oriented center would not have been good for the Lakers last year.
Alright, done with Okafor for now.
Actually, No I’m Not.
If you’ve ever seen the television show “Community”, you’ve heard them talking about the Darkest Timeline. With a little help from Harrison Faigen from Silver Screen and Roll, we thought of a timeline the Lakers would not be fun (or you can look back at last year, what a wreck). I know this wasn’t a trade suggestion that was every discussed on twitter but Harrison and I came up with a thing, rolled with it and here is what happened. So in this nightmare scenario, there is no one here to blame but me and Harrison. But mostly Harrison. Let’s make that a thing #BlameHarrison.
1st, we trade Julius Randle (and Anthony Brown) for Marcus Smart (and Tyler Zeller) *Vomit*
2nd, we make the same Okafor trade spoken about in the earlier scenario
3rd, trade clarkson for Ronnie Price
4th, Trade Ingram for Wesley Johnson
5th (Byron Scott isn’t in this game but just pretend. I adjusted the offense and defense to reflect this) Fire Luke and bring back Byron.
Okay wow. 28-54
Jahlil Okafor went OFF. He averaged those 27 ppg on a 57% shooting clip. Lou Williams was the second leading scorer here, averaging nearly 20 ppg. This might be skewed a bit as I did play a few games where either I ran post-ups with Jahlil or Lou Will isos, because this is what the dead coaching career of Byron Scott would have wanted. But those 4 games I played they ended up scoring 40 each in losses.
The Offense averaged 107ppg but allowed 110ppg to opposing teams. Something that I found really interesting is that most of the people involved in these trades ended up winning an award at the end of the season.
THIS WAS ACTUALLY SUGGESTED ON A BLOG
Big shoutout to Honi Ahmadian aka Nevada’s finest, aka @BLSSBlog aka Me So Honi for sending this to me. Nugglove, the Denver Nuggets blog from Fansided had this post. Here is what it entails:
Step 1: Pouring Gasoline on ourselves
1st Round Draft picks. (for the sake of the Nuggets Roster, I had to take up Mike Miller as well)
Step Two: Lighting the match
Lakers Acquire: Russell Westbrook (had to add Ilyasova and Ronnie Price in here cause the Thunder have too many players)
Thunder Acquire: D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, 2017 pick from Memphis (from Denver), and Los Angeles’s # 1 pick in 2019.
Look at this……I really just……hope that one day, this could happen. What a pretty sight. It’s a goddamn shame the Lakers have to mortgage their entire future for this to happen.
Russell Westbrook went for 35 his first game with the Lakers beating the Rockets 92-81.
The rest of the season did not go as well. Actually, this is an understatement. This team went on two separate losing streaks of 10 games before the All Star Break. Had another 10 game losing streak after the break. The team went on to finish with a 20-62 record, averaging 95.3 points per game, allowing 102.9 points per game
Here’s a look at the final stats. And let’s just take a moment of silence to commemorate Russell’s amazing season despite being on the worst team in the league. 24.9/8.4/7.7
What a statline and I am so happy the Lakers didn’t do this in real life.
FIXED IT, RONNIE 2K
@Ronnie2K it looks like I'm not even in the game 😏
— Ivica Zubac (@ivicazubac) August 30, 2016
A topic of discussion over the offseason is 2k ratings for NBA players. Unfortunately for young Ivica Zubac, the Lakers’s 7 foot 1 pick in the second round did not get his as soon as he liked. It took the 2k team a while but he finally got it. And it’s safe to say, he is criminally underrated. I had the pleasure of watching this young man in Summer League so I fixed his attributes.
I also gave him the dunk packages of Blake Griffin, the shooting packages of Dirk Nowitzki, the Kareem skyhook, and the Michael Jordan post package. His hot zones are the entire court. I gave him all Hall of Fame badges. I also made him 7 foot 7 inches.
I did what I had to do to reflect the fact that Ivica Zubac, the greatest Croatian athlete since Luka Modric, is the future of the National Basketball Association.
He is better than Porzingis. He is better than Michael Jordan. He is bigger, stronger, and faster than that Daft Punk song and subsequently “Stronger” which in which Kanye sampled that same song. If basketball had a Messiah, it is Ivica Zubac. If basketball had a holy deity that could smite everything in a fell swoop, it is Ivica Zubac
He brought the Lakers from 28th overall to 5th on his own without even playing a game.
Season wise, the Lakers go 50-32. They have a first round matchup with the Clippers who they beat 4 games to one. They fall to a 2-0 deficit before rallying back to beat the Spurs in the second round 4-2 before eventually falling to the eventual champions, Golden State Warriors 4 games to 3.
Surprisingly, Zubac isn’t the leading scorer. He is second to D’Angelo Russell, but posted a 63% shooting percentage fro the field as well as 40% from 3. Zubac also averaged 2.6 blocks per game, resulting in him not only winning Rookie of the year, but Defensive player of the Year as well.
The team ultimately failed in delivering Ivica Zubac a championship.
So I changed the team up.
This team wins 57 games, goes 16-0 in the playoffs and the Lakers win their 17th championship. Zubac is named finals MVP, Averaging 15 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks.
Because this is what Zubac deserves.
I can’t believe that I spent hours on this. The NBA has to come back soon.