Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka took notice of the strategy the LeBron James-led Cavaliers deployed in an attempt to beat the Warriors: Surround James with an arsenal of shooters and hope to outscore the reigning champions four out of seven times.
Such a roster did little to crack Golden State's seemingly impenetrable armor, though, which is why Pelinka is taking a different approach when it comes to the talent he's providing the four-time league MVP with.
"If your goal is to win a championship, you've got to look at the way the champs are assembled and how you can give yourself the best chance to take them down," Pelinka said Wednesday, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk.
"It is certainly part of the equation. ... Earvin (Johnson) and I had a conversation and LeBron echoed this sentiment - I think to try to play the Warriors at their own game is a trap. No one is going to beat them at their own game, so that is why we wanted to add these elements of defense and toughness and depth and try to look at areas where we will have an advantage."
The young 2017-18 Lakers finished 12th in the Association in defense and 10th in opponent field-goal percentage (45.6 percent), but gave up a staggering 109.6 points per game (25th). With offseason additions like veterans Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Lance Stephenson, and the re-signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it's clear the Lakers want defensive-minded players who can suit up at multiple positions, but can also put the ball through the hoop.
"We did not want to go out and just sign specialists. 'Oh, this guy can just shoot,'" added Pelinka. "We wanted tough two-way players that can defend with a level of toughness and also make shots. Listen, the road to the NBA championship has to go through the team that won last year, and we all know the guys up north have a special group. But one of the ways to attack what they have is with defensive toughness. I think we saw that in the Houston series with some of the players that Houston has."
It's unclear which players will join James in the starting lineup, as head coach Luke Walton has told Pelinka four spots will be up for grabs in training camp.