The Los Angeles Lakers are finally beginning to appear like a formidable foe after a terrible start to the season. Although they are the 13th seed in the Western Conference, they are only 5.5 games and 2.5 games behind the top seed, respectively. By the All-Star break, the Western Conference standings will look very different.
The Lakers have internally examined the idea of giving the Chicago Bulls DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic in exchange for Russell Westbrook and their first-round draught picks in 2027 and 2029.
The Lakers should make this trade for the following three reasons.
1. LeBron and AD have arrived
Anthony Davis has long been regarded as one of the league’s most “skilled” players, although he frequently fails to make rankings of the top five players. His ability to light up teams in the paint while also playing at a Defensive Player of the Year calibre on the other end is finally beginning to show this year. A recent absurd 55-point performance by Davis against the Washington Wizards propelled him into the MVP conversation.
LeBron hasn’t lost a beat despite being in Year 20; he averages 25.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. Even though his outside shooting percentage has dropped to 33.1 per cent, the lowest it has been since the championship season of 2015–16, he is still opting for difficult jump shots in an effort to protect his body.
LeBron’s body will be preserved, so the Lakers’ front office might as well make advantage of it. The Lakers are 7-3 in their previous ten contests, and the formula for the 2020 championship is still valid. When LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both healthy and playing together, they can dominate the NBA. Rob Pelinka, the general manager, needs to surround them with a respectable squad and consider trading for the Lakers.
2. The Bulls stars are solid fits
DeRozan is a master at attacking closeouts, despite the fact that he doesn’t shoot threes at a high rate and that LeBron-led teams have always surrounded “The King” with shooters. No matter who is on the court, teams will defend LeBron and Davis the same way: pack the paint and force them to kick.
Russell Westbrook likewise struggles to make accurate long-range shots but has recently improved in closeout situations. Although he might not admit it, Westbrook simply lacks DeRozan’s ability to generate his own shot from the midrange.
The Lakers might be able to play more as they did in 2020, with Davis and Vucevic smothering the paint and crashing the glass. Given that the Bulls centre has made 34.8% of his 4.5 attempted three-pointers per game, Vucevic can open up the field for Davis to attack in the post.
Vucevic does has perimeter defensive skills, but Davis is an All-NBA calibre defender with the ability to correct mistakes. Every night, head coach Darvin Ham can employ Vucevic based on the matchups, moving Davis to the five if Vucevic’s defence starts to be a major problem.
3. Westbrook has been better, but not good enough
Now is the time to congratulate Russell Westbrook. Ask Carmelo Anthony how it feels to go from being an MVP-caliber player to the bench. He has been a huge asset off the bench, adding that extra burst of drive when the Lakers have one of their infamously sluggish starts.
Despite the rise in output, Pelinka must now concede that the Westbrook experiment was a failure. LeBron and Westbrook are both on the floor, and the Lakers have a -6 net rating after 100 possessions. Although Westbrook and Davis have good pick-and-roll chemistry, LeBron and Westbrook still have a lot of wrinkles to work out.
Many of Westbrook’s strengths are shared by DeRozan, who also has the potential to be a serious scoring danger. Remember, this player was a dark horse MVP candidate last year. The Lakers should be ecstatic at the prospect of making a deal to acquire this player for LeBron and Davis.
The following three reasons are why the Lakers must deal Russell Westbrook to the Bulls in exchange for two All-Star players: