The Los Angeles Lakers are the winners of 7 of their last 10 games. Arguably, they’re already in the thick of NBA championship contention. With that said, anybody hanging their hats on the results of that relatively small sample size may soon find themselves in need of new headwear. The Lakers’ recent play has been encouraging, but problems persist with this squad. Their 108.20 Offensive Rating ranks a mere 24th in the NBA. They do field a stout defense, as their 108.25 Defensive Rating ranks seventh. That does little to mitigate concerns about their offensive attack. All in all, the need for a Los Angeles Lakers trade is clear.
This team needs improvement. The contending Lakers are a little short on the type of intriguing young players and draft capital that typically pique the interest of rebuilding clubs. However, they do have Talen Horton-Tucker. He’s a player with great upside, as a 21-year-old with a rare combination of athletic gifts, ball-handling, and defensive instincts. Still, his 27.8% three-point percentage renders him a poor fit alongside both LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Besides, the Lakers have too much cap space tied to the present to think about the future. Here are two THT trades that could improve the Los Angeles Lakers in the short term.
Los Angeles Lakers: Two Trades to Fix the Team
A Modernized Twin Towers
The trade: Los Angeles sends Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and 2025 First-Round Pick (top 5 protected) to the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner
Anthony Davis at the 5 truthers may want to avert their eyes.
In fairness, there is validity in the idea that Davis ought to man the middle in the context of the modern NBA. Pace and space reign supreme in this league, and Davis provides more of each at the center position. The concept of pairing him with two wings in the frontcourt is tantalizing.
On the other hand, it’s worth remembering that the Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA championship with Anthony Davis primarily playing the 4. Moreover, he was largely paired with traditional centers in Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee during that title run. Fast-forward to 2021-22, and Anthony Davis is spending more of his time at the 5. The results have been largely unfavorable. His Defensive Box Plus-Minus (DBPM) of 0.1 stands as the single worst mark of the superstar big man’s career.
It may be that Davis operates most effectively as a roaming, weak side shot blocker. The Lakers may want to return to the strategy that recently won them an NBA championship by pairing him with another big man. If they chose that route, it’s hard to imagine a better frontcourt partner than Myles Turner.
Los Angeles Lakers Create an Impenetrable Defense
The appeal of Turner has always resided in his malleability. He may not do much besides space the floor and protect the rim, but finding a player who reliably accomplishes both of those tasks is exceedingly rare. His ability to do the former makes him a tidy fit with the Lakers’ tandem of playmakers in Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Meanwhile, his ability to do the latter allows Davis to return to the 4 spot, where he appears most comfortable.
As for the Pacers, they’ve signaled a clear desire to rebuild. Talen Horton-Tucker might project as a long-term building block. If they’re inclined to think the same, they might be interested in making this deal. Throw in a protected 2025 first-round pick, and they may not be able to refuse. Kendrick Nunn is included for the purpose of matching salaries.
Los Angeles Lakers Add Versatility
The trade: Los Angeles sends Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, DeAndre Jordan, and 2025 First Round Pick (top 5 protected) to Detroit Pistons for Jerami Grant
Once again, the Lakers are sending out THT along with salary filler and the same draft capital to complete their starting frontcourt. Only this time, they’re completing a trade that aims to maximize Anthony Davis at the 5, rather than move him off it. Acquiring Grant would require a leap of faith that Davis can play center; he just hasn’t tried it with the right power forward yet.
If such a player exists, it may be Jerami Grant. He’s a versatile, imminently switchable wing/forward who plays with tremendous pace at the 4 position. Granted (if you’ll pardon the pun), his -0.4 DBPM isn’t exactly inspiring, but in theory, a rim protector of Davis’ stature shouldn’t have to play alongside an elite defensive four. He should only require a versatile one.
Los Angeles Lakers Add an Injection of Offense
Meanwhile, we shouldn’t discuss Grant as if he’s a defensive-minded role player. He’s been arguably overburdened as the featured weapon in the Pistons’ offensive attack, but the 20.1 points per game he’s averaged over 2021-22 so far indicate that he’s been ready to accept the responsibility. In all likelihood, a move to sunny Los Angeles would give him the opportunity to split the difference between his role in Detroit and his former utility role as a member of the Denver Nuggets. In doing so, he could be a boon to this stagnant Lakers offense, without compromising the squad on the less glamorous end of the floor.
The Lakers may be a little hot lately, but a solid ten-game stretch does not meet the expectations of a team rostering three former MVP candidates. Furthermore, as the league’s most attractive market, they don’t need to concern themselves with Talen Horton-Tucker’s potential or a future first-round pick. In all likelihood, they’ll attract one of the next disgruntled NBA stars after LeBron James’ retirement. They would do well to make one of these additions before the NBA Trade Deadline and maximize their odds of winning right now.
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