Anna Bauer ’23
With the trade deadline just days away and both LeBron James and Anthony Davis injured, the Los Angeles Lakers are desperately looking to upgrade their roster.
James has always been a superstar on the court, but what was not discovered until recently is how much his great game covered up a lot of roster-building mistakes. The Lakers are ranked 22nd in 3-point percentage and 25th in 3-point attempt rate: this means that the Lakers have relatively average half-court offensive numbers. This statistic is almost irrelevant when Lebron is playing the game as he can lift a transitioning offense and practically completely take over, sustaining a top defense even when it lacks its best player, Davis.
Despite Davis missing over half the season, James has been able to keep sole possession of the Lakers’ No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. However, James’ high-ankle sprain and the promise of being indefinitely out of the game makes the scoring statistics seem to matter so much more. Moreover, the Lakers now only have one functioning ball-handler, Dennis Schröder, and again their defense is without its best and smartest player, Davis, so the Lakers are extraordinarily vulnerable.
They have 16 games scheduled throughout the next month, at least half of which are against championship contenders, including the Suns, 76ers, Bucks, Clippers, Heat, Nets, and Jazz, and James is no longer able to help win. So, the Lakers need to upgrade through trade as best they can and are discussing looking for a new guard. However, they are not in the best position to trade. Los Angeles only has $1.5 million to work with before they reach their hard-capped limit, not to mention that their empty roster spots would likely require them to match dollar-for-dollar the salary of any player they manage to acquire.
At the moment, the Lakers have expressed great interest in Andre Drummond. Drummond’s offensive game is limited but productive, however, his defensive game is what he is known for. He is one of the best rebounders in the NBA, holding the top defensive and total rebound percentages, and he is great at protecting the rim of the net.
Other than Drummond, there are a number of players that the Lakers could be looking at, including Alfonzo McKinnie, Wayne Ellington, and Kent Bazemore. But to acquire them, they may have to lose certain players. This possibly includes Montrezl Harrell and/or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
When James was still able to play, he helped place the Lakers four games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, who currently are the no. 7 seed in the Western Conference. However, while, just like the Lakers, the Spurs are expected to fall behind a bit, the Dallas Mavericks, who trail the Lakers by just six games, are not. Hopefully, James and Davis will be back in the game soon enough and their current lead will protect them throughout the play-in round.
However, this season’s statistics show that when James was not playing, and even Davis was, the Lakers were outscored 4.5 points per 100 possessions. Moreover, without Davis and James, the Lakers have an offense that, in terms of efficiency, ranks in the 17th percentile. The tragic moral of the story: do not expect any high scoring games from the Lakers for the next couple of weeks.