The unsolved mysteries that the Lakers have tackled these days seem plenty.
There marks the 82.8 percent chance the Lakers land in the top five of the NBA draft lottery, though a slim albeit significant 17.2 percent change still lingers they have to trade the pick to Philadelphia as part of the Steve Nash deal. The Lakers remain hopeful Kobe Bryant can return from his third consecutive season-ending injury, though uncertainty awaits if he can survive an 82-game season in his 20th NBA year. The Lakers also have plenty of cap space to pursue marquee free agents, though the nine vacant roster spots could lead to a lack of clarity on the team’s identity. Of course, questions persists on how quickly the Lakers can rebuild after ending the 2014-15 season with a 21-61 record, the team’s worst mark in the franchise’s 67-year-old history.
Then there marks another riddle that the Lakers have spent the past two years trying to solve. What can they expect from Wesley Johnson? As he has posted career-highs in points in consecutive seasons and impressed the Lakers with his seemingly infinite athleticism, will Johnson morph into the consistent wing scorer and lockdown defender that some on the staff liken to Michael Cooper? Or will Johnson’s inconsistency continue to follow him as it has done for most of his five-year NBA career?
“There might be a time where we have to say, ‘This is exactly who the guy is,'” Lakers coach Byron Scott said earlier in the 2014-15 season. But Scott then added, “I don’t know if that time is now,” recalling that former Lakers general manager Jerry West noted that most NBA players hit their peak between 28 and 32 years old. Johnson will turn 28 on July 11.
“If that’s the case,” Scott said, “he probably has another year of hitting that plateau of playing even better than he’s been playing.”
All of which leaves the Lakers with mixed feelings on whether they want to retain Johnson once he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.