Los Angeles Lakers All-Decade Team

Los Angeles Lakers All-Decade Team
TEXAS, USA - (ARCHIVE): A file photo dated on 2009 shows Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant during NBA All Star competitions in Dallas, Texas, United States. Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles Sunday morning, US media reported. (Photo by Tolga Adanali/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Despite the talent on the Los Angeles Lakers all-decade team, the 2010s were quite frustrating for Lakers fans. After winning their sixteenth championship in 2010, the Lakers experienced unprecedented turbulence for the next nine years. All of a sudden, the superhuman Lakers franchise, which, since 1980, had won the Western Conference more often than not, looked startlingly mortal. Consequently, there was invariable turnover with regards to the players, ownership, the front office, and coaching. However, even with all their scandals and mishaps of this decade, the Lakers still emerged from their nosedive in the standings to reclaim their usual position at the top of the board.

Los Angeles Lakers All-Decade Team

Decade Breakdown

As any Lakers fans can attest, this decade essentially consisted of three main phases. The first phase was prior to the late Kobe Bryant’s Achilles injury, during which the Lakers made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons. This stretch was initiated by a world championship, and it ended in 2013 following the disastrous Dwight Howard and Steve Nash acquisitions.

The decade’s second phase was from 2014 to 2018, and it entailed the Lakers rebuild, as well as decline and retirement of legend Kobe Bryant. During this time, the team accumulated first-rounders, as they underwent the worst stretch of basketball in Lakers’ history.

The third phase commences with the signing of LeBron James, and it includes the 2018-19 and 2019-20 NBA seasons. The team was further bolstered by the trade for Anthony Davis, which ultimately pushed the Lakers to the top of the conference.

Given the aforementioned turnover, the Lakers’ all-decade team is made of players from a variety of backgrounds and levels of expertise. However, they were all involved in some way or the other in shaping the Lakers franchise for the past, present, and future.

Los Angeles Lakers All-Decade Team – Starters

G: Derek Fisher

Looking at Derek Fisher’s stats, it’s understandable to be initially perplexed about his first-team status on this all-decade team. After all, his stats were respectable but not especially eye-popping, as he averaged around 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists from 2010 to 2012. However, his unwavering grit, determination, and leadership were on full display in every single game, and this especially holds true in the biggest moments of his career. His legendary clutchness was particularly evident in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals, when his big fourth quarter helped the Lakers to a critical win on the road against the hated Boston Celtics. It gained significance after the series, as it was the only road win of the Finals for the Lakers.

Besides his clutchness, Fisher was renowned for his tenacity and three-point prowess. He played the most playoff games in NBA history. Despite this, he still managed to play hard every game, even late into his thirties. As Bryant attested to time and time again, no point guard managed to flow into the triangle offense the same way Fisher could. While he was on the back end of his career during this last decade, Fisher showed that he could still shoot the ball from deep. He finished his career averaging 40 percent from downtown, even with the tenth most made three-pointers all-time. While his stats were not the most gaudy, Fisher undeniably deserves recognition as the top Lakers point guard of the decade.

G: Kobe Bryant

This one is extremely self-explanatory. The former Lakers superstar, who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in January, goes does as one of the greatest players in NBA history. From his Mamba mentality to his innumerable clutch moments, Bryant put together some of the finest seasons ever. He led the team to four playoff appearances in the decade, winning the title in 2010. In six seasons from 2010-16, he averaged 24.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.

In 2013, Bryant suffered an Achilles injury right before what would end up being the Lakers’ last playoff appearance of the 2010s. His determination to shoot free throws right after the injury exemplified his work-hard persona. That moment ultimately became one of his most legendary. However, Bryant was never the same player after his injury, and his drop-off statistically mirrored the team’s descent into the bottom of the Western Conference. He retired in 2016 at the age of 34, but not before dropping a whopping 60 points in an emotional season finale against the Utah Jazz. This game manifested Bryant’s identity as a dazzling basketball player, and it served as a fitting goodbye for one of the greatest the NBA has ever seen.

F/C: LeBron James

Though James has only been in Los Angeles for a relatively short time, his monumental contributions unquestionably deserve recognition on the Lakers’ all-decade team. In his two seasons, James has averaged 26.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 9.5 assists. Prior to his Lakers signing, James made a name for himself with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, winning three titles. He’s a consensus top two player of all time, and definitely the best forward to play the game. As a result, expectations were through the roof upon coming to the Lakers.

The 2018-19 season, however, did not go according to plan. For a James-led team, making the playoffs is certainly a must. Sadly, a swath of injuries to James and others led to a lost season. James’s play up to his injury was still superb. His injury led to doubt over whether father time was catching up to him. The silver lining to the poor season was that it provided a lottery pick that was eventually used to acquire star Anthony Davis, and it also gave James an unprecedented amount of time to rest and rejuvenate. In 2019-20, the Lakers came out of the gates flying, and James was back in the MVP conversation. While the fate of the current NBA season is unknown, it’s clear that he is still an elite player. Whether he can bring the Lakers to the promised land is still to be seen.

F/C: Brandon Ingram

While he is the youngest and least distinguished member of the starting lineup, Brandon Ingram definitely warrants consideration for the Lakers’ All-Decade team. In three seasons, he averaged nearly 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. Ingram’s tenure with the Lakers was marked by both promise and injury. He didn’t have a gaping weakness, as his athleticism allowed him to be a multi-faceted player. Ingram showed that he excelled with the ball in his hands, as he was an adept shot creator. He showed hustle on defense as well, and his long frame allowed him to defend multiple positions.

Selected with the number two pick out of Duke, Ingram flashed his immense potential almost immediately. He was chosen to participate in two Rising Stars Challenges, and he was selected to the 2016 All-Rookie Second Team. However, once LeBron James joined the Lakers, Ingram’s effectiveness quickly declined. After all, Ingram excels with the ball in his hands, leading to a questionable fit with the ball-dominant James. While Ingram still ended up averaging north of 18 points, the team shipped him to the New Orleans Pelicans with teammates Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball in a trade for Anthony Davis. Ultimately, while Ingram never completely realized his potential, his all-around game stood out to such an extent that recognition is surely warranted.

F/C: Pau Gasol

During his time with the Lakers, Pau Gasol established himself as a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest international players ever. Traded from the Memphis Grizzlies for his younger brother Marc Gasol, Gasol was an extremely talented big man who could shoot, rebound, and defend spectacularly. Furthermore, Gasol was an incredibly smart basketball player. His remarkable basketball IQ, as well as his seemingly innate penchant for passing, led to two All-Star selections in the 2010s.

It was the addition of Gasol that really put the Lakers over the top. Prior to 2008, the Lakers seemed to lack an identity following their Shaquille O’Neal trade of 2004, and they had endured many losing seasons, simultaneously wasting the prime of Bryant. Gasol instantly changed the culture of the Lakers, as they made three straight Finals with him. He fit right into Phil Jackson’s triangle offense as an unselfish, high IQ big man, and he consequently contributed to a plethora of outstanding moments, especially in the playoffs. Without Gasol, Bryant would almost certainly have only three rings.

Los Angeles Lakers All-Decade Team – Bench

G: Nick Young

Prior to Alex Caruso, Nick Young was a cult figure that attracted the attention of all Lakers fans. Whether it was his bold shot selection or reckless confidence, Young was truly an amusing spectacle. However, his game wasn’t all bark and no bite; Young put up some impressive stat-lines in his five seasons of play.

From 2013 to 2017, he averaged a solid 13.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. Young served an important leadership role for the rebuilding team, helping to guide its plethora of young talent. In addition, his Lakers stint eventually proved to rejuvenate his NBA career. Clearly, Young’s contributions to the Lakers both on and off the court cemented his status among the Lakers’ beloved.

G: Jordan Clarkson

The Lakers selected Jordan Clarkson out of Missouri with the 46th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Not expected to play a major role, Clarkson was a pleasant surprise as he made the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Over four years, Clarkson developed into a stellar scorer and serviceable facilitator. During this time, he averaged 14.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. Clarkson’s Lakers tenure ended in 2018 by trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite his sudden departure, Clarkson’s unexpected development in the face of adversity made his time with the Lakers a success.

F/C: Julius Randle

Picked seventh overall in the 2014 Draft, Julius Randle was the first in a long line of lottery picks. His career admittedly started quite poorly, as he broke his leg in the first game of the season. Nonetheless, he overcame the odds and eventually blossomed into a double-double machine. In three full seasons with the Lakers, Randle averaged 13.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. Since his Lakers’ departure, Randle has played at near All-Star caliber with the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks.

F/C: Lamar Odom

With the Lakers, Lamar Odom was a potent force off the bench. While he only played two seasons this decade, he nevertheless had a vital role on the contending Lakers. In 2010, he played all 82 games and averaged 10.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. His stellar play in the playoffs energized the Lakers to a victory in the 2010 Finals. In addition, Odom’s 2011 season was for the books, as he won the 2011 Sixth Man of the Year award. He averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in a second consecutive year of 82 games played. Odom’s versatility and toughness made him a beloved figure in the Lakers community. While his departure and post-NBA career were both greatly saddening, Odom’s positive impact on the Lakers can never be forgotten.

F/C: Andrew Bynum

Forgotten by many NBA fans, Andrew Bynum played an important role on the contending Lakers. Had he managed to stay healthy, he certainly would have made more All-Star appearances. Alas, Bynum had only one All-Star berth in 2012, when he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks.

Alongside Pau Gasol, Bynum formed the famed “Twin Towers”, helping the Lakers win the 2009 and 2010 championships. His time with the Lakers ended with the trade that brought Dwight Howard to Los Angeles. Overall, because of his important contributions to a championship-winning Lakers squad, Bynum deserves a spot on the Lakers All-Decade team.

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