Why Signing Jay Huff Is Important to the LA Lakers


The Los Angeles Lakers enter the 2021/2022 NBA season as one of the favorites to win it all.

Not only are they among the teams vying to win the Western Conference, but the Lakers will fancy their chances of defeating any Eastern rival in the NBA Finals.

When the team is fully healthy, the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook are a match for anyone.

With such stellar names, could a signing such as Jay Huff be the key to betting on their winning ways returning?

Below is an analysis of Jay Huff, why the Los Angeles Lakers chose to sign him, and how he can help the team in the coming months.

Lakers Start Slowly

The LA Lakers are not in the best form at the start of the NBA season. After the first ten matches, the Lakers are 5-5, coming off a poor loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. 

With an injury to star LeBron James, the Lakers are without their best player for a significant portion of the regular season. Fans will be hoping LeBron can recover from the injury before the team is deep into a losing record, as they may find it difficult to recover and maintain enough wins to get into the playoffs.

Given LeBron is absent for the moment, the coaching staff is working on different lineups and rotations to get the best out of the remaining roster. That can bring up some interesting situations for younger players, as they can prove themselves as effective role players during the regular season.

The Lakers are relying on their big three of LeBron, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook leading them to glory by the end of the season. However, they must overcome a slow start and eventually get themselves into one of the top positions in the Western Conference to avoid a difficult playoff run.

Who is Jay Huff?

One of the more interesting signings from the Lakers in the offseason came only a couple of days before the start of the campaign. A day before the opening night of the season, the Lakers announced they were acquiring Jay Huff.

The youngster, who won a championship playing for the University of Virginia, went undrafted in 2021. He did receive a pickup from the Washington Wizards, but Huff only played two preseason games before he was released by the Wizards as he did not fit with their roster.

The Lakers quickly pounced and secured Huff, who is a 7ft 1-inch, 240-pound two-way player. That means he is equally capable of taking it to the rim and scoring, while he is also adept at defending against bigger players on the opposition team.

Huff is not a superstar, but he was on the ACC All-Defensive Team when he was at college. The issue that he may experience is that playing in the NBA is very different to NCAA basketball, as the level of opponent you are facing is immense.

Fitting Huff Into the Lakers

The question many fans will be asking is whether a signing such as Huff can have any impact on the team during this season? Younger players are not secured for the present, as teams are looking to the future and how that player may improve with one or two years of NBA experience under their belt.

If Huff plays at center for the Lakers, he is behind Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan in the rotation. Considering the age and injury histories of both those players, he may get more chances than most are expecting. Huff will have to ensure he is ready from the moment he is thrown into a game and is expected to play five or six minutes in a row.

Keeping the Big Three Healthy

Championships are not won by rookie players coming in from the NCAA level, especially those who go undrafted. Jay Huff may surprise people and prove a valuable rotation option for the Lakers, but he will not determine whether they win a chip.

What Huff can achieve is taking pressure off the big three on the Lakers, along with their other older superstars. The number one priority for the Lakers coaching staff and management is to ensure LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook are healthy during the last 20 games of the regular season and for their entire playoff run.

If those three are fit and at their best come the postseason, the Lakers can match and beat any team in the world.

Can Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard Still Contribute?

Even if the Lakers do have young guns such as Jay Huff who are eager to make a big impression, they must get more out of the veterans on their roster. The likes of Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony, along with DeAndre Jordan, are expected to get significant minutes throughout the regular season.

Howard, Anthony, and Jordan are not without their qualities, even at the twilight of their careers. The issue for the Lakers is that all of them are showing their age in terms of explosiveness and the ability to get back on defense. The coaching staff must find a way to get decent contributions from these older stars, without compromising their defense too much.

Lakers and Huff Can Go All the Way

Question marks remain regarding the health of the superstars on the Los Angeles Lakers, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis. New signing Russell Westbrook, is also prone to knee issues.

The main challenge for the Lakers and their coaching staff is to keep all their stars healthy, and that means significant rotation of the lineups and substitutes in every regular-season game.

Even though a young athlete such as Jay Huff may not arrive in Los Angeles with the biggest reputation, he may prove to be a vital part of the rotation. If the Lakers can work their system to get Huff and his younger teammates more minutes, they may be able to take enough load away from the veterans to keep them healthy for the playoffs.

 



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