Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers broke a six-year streak of missing the playoffs and won the NBA championship. They were able to do this by landing LeBron James in free agency and trading for Anthony Davis.
They won yet another title, but they gave up a lot of assets in the process. There are many players in the league who are having breakout seasons or already have had one, and you look at them and think, “Oh yeah, they used to play for the Lakers.” The amount of talent they’ve had to give up is actually staggering.
The Best Former Lakers
This is not an argument against the moves that the Lakers made. They won a championship which is the ultimate goal of any team, so they are completely justified in the trades they have made. Would this lineup have made the Lakers a championship team either now or in the future? It’s impossible to say, but now they have a chip with Davis. This is more to illustrate all the talent they had to give up to get to that point.
Ex-Lakers Point Guard – D’Angelo Russell
The Lakers drafted him second overall in the 2015 draft. He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets two years later along with Timofey Mozgov in exchange for Brook Lopez and the draft pick that would become Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma, of course, was a member of the Lakers’ championship team. This move also allowed room for the team to select Lonzo Ball second overall in 2017.
While in Brooklyn, Russell made the All-Star team in his fourth season, at just the age of 22. He’s been traded more often than any other young All-Star in recent memory, playing for four teams in his first five seasons, but his production speaks for itself.
He’s averaging 19.3 points and 5.1 assists per game. He hasn’t quite matched his production from his All-Star year but he’s one of the building blocks of a young, struggling Minnesota Timberwolves team.
Ex-Lakers Shooting Guard – Jordan Clarkson
This year, he’s the clear frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s averaging 18.2 points per game, which leads the league for players coming off the bench. Not to mention that he’s doing it while on the team with the best record in the league.
Ex-Lakers Small Forward – Brandon Ingram
Ingram was the second pick in the 2016 draft and the biggest bargaining chip in the trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Davis. Ingram made his first All-Star game last year and looks likely to return this year, and for many years to come.
At 6’8”, Ingram can handle the ball, take defenders off of the dribble, create his own shot, and create for his teammates. He has a complete skill set. This year he’s averaging 23.6 points, 4.8 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 39.2% from three.
Ex-Lakers Power Forward – Julius Randle
Randle was the seventh pick in 2014 and another player in the Davis trade. He was in New Orleans for one year before going to the New York Knicks in free agency. Now in his second year in New York, he’s having a career year and looks like he’s going to make his first all-star team. He’s averaging 23.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game and is one of the best passing big men in the league.
Ex-Lakers Center – Larry Nance Jr.
Nance was sent to Cleveland in the same trade as Clarkson. One of the best dunkers in the league from his first season, he’s an athletic big who has improved his all-around game. Barely attempting any three pointers while on the Lakers, he’s now shooting more than three per game and is shooting them at 38.1%.
Sixth Man – Lonzo Ball
Yet another player sent to New Orleans for Davis. He hasn’t lived up to the hype he had coming out of college but has still become a solid player. He’s averaging 14.3 points per game while being a good defender and playmaker. For all the criticism he receives for his shooting form, he’s shooting 38.8% from three and attempts nearly eight per game. He has almost turned into something of a three-point specialist.
Honorable Mention – Josh Hart
Here’s one more player that was traded to New Orleans for Davis. Still just 25 years old, Hart has become a solid player. He’s extremely efficient on two-point field goals, and is a surprisingly good rebounder for his position, averaging 7.5 per game.
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