The Lakers look primed for a very deep Playoffs run this season, thanks in part to a fantastic selection of superstar players including LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Anthony Davis has an aggravated Achilles injury that will keep him out of action for the next couple of weeks at least. This is a scary sign for the Lakers that resting Anthony Davis for as long as possible is the key to them repeating as NBA champions in 2021.
The Lakers are now looking thin in the frontcourt, without a true big man with height and size other than 36-year old Marc Gasol. Even though Montrezl Harrell plays bigger than he is, the Lakers need a big man to be able to defend the rim and rebound. At the same time, the Lakers need depth to relieve pressure off of Anthony Davis when he returns from injury.
Here are the 7 big men the Lakers can sign immediately to replace Anthony Davis.
7. Dewayne Dedmon
Dedmon had a strong season last year as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, playing 23.3 MPG and averaging close to a double-double. Dedmon is the type of player to grab multiple rebounds in just a short amount of time and plays hard on both ends of the floor. It is strange how he doesn’t have a job in the league right now even if he doesn’t space the floor from three.
The Lakers know what they will get with Dedmon, a defensive center who plays hard and stays in his lane. Dedmon is 31 years old so he still has gas in the tank, and his 6 years in the league means he has the experience to help a contender like the Lakers as well.
6. Thon Maker
2020-2021 Statistics: 3.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Trade Package: Quinn Cook, Kostas Antetokounmpo for Thon Maker
Thon Maker was once a prospect with great potential. Those days aren’t completely over, as the talented center is only turning 24 years old this month. Maker just hasn’t found a team to be successful with, and a team like the Lakers could take him to the next level. Maker is only playing 9.5 MPG, however, so he will have some convincing to do if he wants to play.
The Lakers won’t have to give up too much to acquire Maker, as he is a center who can space the floor a bit and has height on his side. The Lakers can gamble on Maker becoming a very good player in the next couple of years, or just settle for him playing 15-20 minutes a night to cover for Anthony Davis.
5. Nerlens Noel
2020-2021 Statistics: 4.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Trade Package: Quinn Cook, Kostas Antetokounmpo for Nerlens Noel
Noel entered the league with tremendous height and athleticism, although he never quite reached the potential expected of him. He had a decent career thus far, and he can be a valuable role player thanks to his defensive skills around the rim and rebounding.
Noel is only playing 19.0 MPG this season with the Knicks, and he has been the backup for Mitchell Robinson. The Lakers could use Noel’s 6-11” frame around the basket, and even if he plays around 20 MPG, he can be effective as a backup big for Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.
4. Mo Bamba
2020-2021 Statistics: 4.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Trade Package: Quinn Cook, Kostas Antetokounmpo for Mo Bamba
A traditional big who can defend and rebound effectively, Bamba is an active young center who has a ton of growing left to do. Bamba is only playing 8.7 MPG this season as he hasn’t made the rotation for the Orlando Magic. That is a far-cry off his 16.3 MPG he saw in his rookie season. The Lakers can get Bamba healthy and playing under some experienced bigs including Marc Gasol to improve his game.
Bamba won’t come in and shake up the roster, but he will play important minutes to cover Anthony Davis and do the dirty work. Bamba has room to improve, and the Lakers should take a gamble on the 22-year old this season.
3. Hassan Whiteside
2020-2021 Statistics: 8.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.3 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Trade Package: Quinn Cook, Kostas Antetokounmpo for Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside is another experienced big who has been a consistent shot-blocker and rebounder for a long time now. Despite his inconsistencies, Whiteside can rebound, defend, and finish at the rim. Playing with LeBron will allow Whiteside to get easy buckets offensively, while he defends the rim with his height and length.
Whiteside cannot be counted on to replace Marc Gasol in the starting lineup, but he is always a useful role player at this stage of his career. Whiteside is only playing 14.8 MPG this season for the Kings, and he is probably not untouchable by any means. The Lakers can get a good deal and bring in the 2-time Blocks Champ to the roster.
2. Blake Griffin
2020-2021 Statistics: 12.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG
By far the worst season of his career, Blake Griffin has been a shell of himself. He doesn’t seem happy in Detroit, and the Pistons have basically given up on him. While Griffin likely won’t ever become an All-Star at this rate, he improves any roster he joins due to his skills as a versatile power forward.
Griffin is making too much money for the Lakers to trade for him, but if the Pistons buy him out, he can immediately replace Davis in the starting lineup and possibly return to his 20 PPG form. Griffin should not be the savior for the Lakers this season, but if he returns anywhere close to 80% of his best form, the Lakers are in the driver’s seat to win the West.
1. Andre Drummond
2020-2021 Statistics: 17.5 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG
Andre Drummond has looked like an All-Star with the Cleveland Cavaliers at times and is 2nd in the NBA in rebounds. Drummond is athletic, long, and plays hard on defense which is evident by his stats. At this moment, he is the hottest big man commodity available on the market.
Like Blake Griffin, Drummond is making max money and will be shut out by his team until he is traded or bought out. The Lakers cannot trade for Drummond, but if he is bought out, acquiring the 2-time All-Star would boost the Lakers to equal footing with the Nets in terms of talent. Drummond can replace Gasol in the lineup and will be an excellent partner next to Anthony Davis when he returns.