Los Angeles Lakers, The Whiteboard

How far from its peak is this Los Angeles Lakers roster?

This Lakers roster is loaded with former All-Stars. When would this group have been at its hypothetical best and what does it mean for their championship hopes this year?

In terms of historic accolades, the current Los Angeles Lakers roster is loaded. With the offseason additions of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Russell Westbrook, they have, collectively, five MVPs, four Defensive Player of the Year Awards, four scoring titles, four assist titles, five rebound titles, and 55 All-Star selections. But, as fans of every other team have gleefully pointed out this summer, most of that is well in the past. The joke is that a decade ago this team would have been unbeatable. Now, maybe not so much.

The Lakers will enter this season with the oldest roster in the league and several key players well past their primes. The graph below shows this year’s roster with each player charted by a two-year rolling average of their Real Plus-Minus and, as you can see, almost everyone is either flat-lining or on a downward trajectory.

How far are these Los Angeles Lakers from their prime?

If you had to pick a season when this Lakers’ roster would have been at its most deadly, 2013 may have been it. Anthony Davis was a net-neutral rookie but LeBron had rebounded from a down year, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook were moving toward their peaks. Marc Gasol was the Defensive Player of the Year and Dwight Howard was in his last stretch of elite basketball. But not everyone on this roster is as far removed from their prime and not everyone has lost an equal amount of their prime production.

Comparing each player’s average Real Plus-Minus from the past two seasons, we can see how many seasons they’re removed from their career two-year peak and what percent of their peak production they’ve lost.

The good news for the Lakers is that they don’t need most of these guys at their peak, thanks to LeBron James — who is somehow more than a decade removed from his two-year productive prime and has lost only 18 percent of that peak RPM.

With LeBron on the roster, they don’t need Westbrook to create offense at an MVP level or Howard and Gasol to be the best defenders on the league. They just need everyone to defend their position, move the ball, hit open shots and trade on all that absurd, accumulated experience. If they can do that, the Lakers’ will have the last laugh.

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