After months of speculation, it finally happened. The Los Angeles Lakers made an in-season trade for someone that is not a 6’3” guard.
The Los Angeles Lakers are finalizing a trade sending guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards for Rui Hachimura, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. https://t.co/aTP7eYyGOh
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 23, 2023
Aside from the draft capital, the 20-26 Wizards will be receiving a guard who has been in need of a fresh start. Nunn, who is averaging 6.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game on 40-32-81 splits, is doing so after missing the entirety of last season due to a bone bruise in his knee. Since returning, he has had a sizable role in the Lakers’ rotation, but he’s been largely disappointing aside from a few high-scoring outings in the past couple of months. He scored a season-high 23 points with three triples on Jan. 6 against the Atlanta Hawks, and he has produced 12 double-digit scoring performances. Known as a dynamic ball-handler who can fit at either position, Nunn will provide guard depth to a team currently relying on Bradley Beal and Monte Morris to run the bulk of their offense.
The Lakers have finally addressed one of their biggest needs with this move, acquiring a 6’8” forward who can give them an offensive spark while contributing on defense. The 24-year-old Hachimura is currently averaging 13 points, four rebounds, and one assist per game on 49-34-76 splits. This move comes just after he dropped 30 points on the Orlando Magic. Hachimura had grown frustrated that the Wizards did not offer him a rookie extension during the preseason. After last night’s win, he told reporters, “I just want to be somewhere that wants me as a basketball player.” The Lakers, who have had a myriad of issues in the course of their 22-25 season, clearly do.
As a team, LA ranks 20th in defensive rating at 113.8 while keeping their offensive rating afloat at 15th (113.3). Their team’s lack of size has been exploited plenty of times throughout the season, as they give up an average of nearly 53 points in the paint and allow their opponents to score 17.2 second-chance points per game, according to NBA Stats. Having Hachimura in a front-court with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Thomas Bryant will hopefully aid their defense in that regard. Offensively, he thrives in the paint with a 50% two-point field-goal percentage, and his modest three-point shooting will help a team that currently buries 33.7% of their triples—good for 26th in the league.
Though it is way too early to determine who “won” the deal outright, the Lakers have certainly taken a step towards improving their roster, while Washington has seemed to find a temporary solution to their problem of point guard depth. Time will tell how each addition fits in with their new team, but for now, fans of the Lakers and Wizards can breathe a sigh of relief that help, albeit a little bit, is on the way.