The Los Angeles Lakers have had an underwhelming season, to say the least. The team is 15-13 and currently holds the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
While the Lakers’ offense looks disorganized on some possessions, it also looks great on others. They have three great offensive players, two of which are great facilitators.
The Lakers’ offense will get better as time goes on, the main issue is their defense. Any moves the Lakers make should be with their defense in mind.
The problem is, do the Lakers have the assets to improve their defense with trades?
The pair are yet to make their debut for the Lakers and are both capable defenders. Especially Ariza.
Ariza more so will have the bigger defensive impact on the Lakers. The team doesn’t really have another good wing defender, outside of James who isn’t a very consistent defender but can play great defense at times.
Talen Horton-Tucker can also step up and guard bigger players due to his long wingspan.
So, although there is hope that their defense will improve when these two return, they aren’t going to solve the problem. The Lakers won’t go back to being one of the best defensive teams in the league because of Ariza and Nunn, but they will help the current situation.
1. A New Rim Protector
What the Lakers need is a great rim protector, which has good defensive awareness but also one that doesn’t hinder the offense.
It’s fair to say a good defensive presence at the five, is more important for the Lakers right now than good on-ball defenders.
They have that in their roster and their defense is still terrible, they don’t have it as much as they did last year but they still had it.
The Lakers’ Biggest Team Need is a good defender at the five, alongside Davis.
Dwight Howard is great at his role, but he can tend to pick up fouls quickly.
DeAndre Jordan has been a bad addition. He is just a rotational player who is likely not getting many minutes to come playoff time, but even in the minutes, he’s been getting in the regular season he has not been great.
Anthony Davis will play the five in the playoffs, but another five or someone who can play the four also would be a great asset.
One of the reasons the Lakers need a rim protector with defensive awareness is because their help defense is quite frankly terrible.
They allow the third-most points in the league a game, and a large part of it is they allow easy buckets. They also allow the second-most points in the paint this season.
The only team that allows more points in the paint than the Lakers is the Sacramento Kings.
Another capable rim protector in the lineup with Anthony Davis would make the entire team’s defense function better.
However, the problem is who is that defender that fits these criteria. There is one who is rumored to be available for trade and his name is Myles Turner.
Turner would be a great addition to the Lakers. He is currently leading the league in blocks per game with 2.8.
He also led the league in blocks last year averaging 3.4 per game. Turner also is shooting 38.1% from three this year, he is a very capable three-point shooter at 6 ft 11.
Now, everyone in the NBA knows what Turner would bring to a team, what he would bring to the Lakers. The problem is the Lakers aren’t in the best position to trade for a player of his caliber.
He’s earning around $17million a year from the Indiana Pacers and is a free agent in 2023. The Lakers aren’t in a position to take this salary on.
That aside, what could the Lakers really offer the Pacers? Talen Horton-Tucker is the Lakers’ only great trade asset in terms of players.
The Pacers currently have a great young core and are reportedly interested in trading them, they need to protect their future. The other talented players on the Lakers roster are only on one-year contracts and they don’t have desirable draft picks.
A trade for Turner from the Lakers is highly unlikely, he may not be an All-Star but he is a very talented player that can contribute big on a championship team.
A rotation of the five of him, Howard, and Davis would be ideal but it probably won’t happen.
The Lakers need to improve their defense quickly, but as said earlier, they don’t really have the means to do it through trading.
The Lakers need time. The regular season is 82 games long and the Lakers are only 28 games in. They are also dealing with injuries throughout the season.
LeBron James has only played 16 games this season, and the Lakers are 10-6 with him. The Lakers will only get better and better as time goes on.
Their big three needs to keep playing together, in order to improve the team’s offense.
Russell Westbrook may not be the most natural fit, but it can definitely work. We’ve seen some great basketball from Westbrook.
A couple of plays from Westbrook can change the momentum of a game, and that will be very important come playoffs.
The longer Westbrook gets in this offense, the better. The Lakers have shown signs of clicking on all cylinders, more time is only a good thing.
The Lakers are yet to play with their team at full strength, with their full roster available. Their full roster may not solve all their current issues, but they need time with it if they are going to compete for a championship.
Whilst getting good performances from Westbrook is crucial, the Lakers will go as far as LeBron James takes them. James is having a great season so far, averaging 26.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 7.1 assists.
In his last seven games, he is averaging 28.4 points, 8.2 assists, and 7.5 rebounds. He has also won five of those games.
As the Lakers continue to grow their chemistry, he will only get better and better.
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