The Los Angeles Lakers have been very disappointing to say the least, barely standing over .500 and not looking like a championship contender by any means. Quite simply, the offseason moves they made this year have not worked out at all.
Russell Westbrook has been very inconsistent, failing to make his outside shots (30.7% from three) and also turning the ball over whenever he has the ball (4.7 TOV). For a team that has championship aspirations with an aging superstar in LeBron James, Westbrook needs to play more controlled and in line with an efficient offense. But based on what we have seen throughout his career, that will not happen.
Other than Westbrook’s inefficiencies, the role players that were brought in have not performed well. Carmelo Anthony started off the season incredibly well, but the 37-year-old is not a defender and never has been. He will also hit a cold steak at some point because he has never been a true marksman from deep. Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza have yet to make an impact due to injury, while Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan are sharing minutes.
The Lakers have a ton of issues within the roster with their new signings, but their two superstars also deserve their blame. LeBron has started showing signs of Father Time by dealing with nagging injuries for the first time in his career, and Anthony Davis has not imposed his will on the floor as of yet. While it is not James’ fault for having injury issues, that will not help the team win games while Davis continues to show a lack of leadership.
Luckily for the Lakers, there are two players that could save their season as soon as they become available. While it is a bit severe to expect these players to make an impact immediately, they could very well be the reason that the Lakers get back on track as soon as possible.
Kemba Walker has had a frustrating season, perhaps the worst in his career. The former 4-time All-Star is averaging the lowest-scoring season of his career (11.7 PPG) while averaging a career-low in APG (3.1). Kemba is also averaging the lowest minutes of his career (24.5) as he played even more in his rookie season.
But despite all of these facts, Kemba will improve the Lakers squad as soon as he has his role made clear to him. Walker is nailing a career-high 41.3% of his threes this season, a very high number compared to what the Lakers guards are putting up. Also, Walker has not fit within the scheme of the New York Knicks and that has taken a toll on his production.
Even if Walker has aged quicker than many expected because his knees are almost shot, he is a knockdown shooter from deep who will always have All-Star intangibles. As a 6th man, Kemba Walker is an immediate upgrade over any role player the Lakers are relying on to play major minutes and also brings a different type of point guard to Russell Westbrook on the court.
The Knicks are looking for a way to part ways with Walker, and buying him out could be the best option for a player making a ton of money at the moment. A point guard depth chart featuring Russell Westbrook and Kemba Walker would be scary to play against because either one is capable of going off offensively.
The 6’8” power forward has appeared in 14 games this season as a backup big man to the likes of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Love is 33 years old with a ton of mileage on his body, but can still be an effective scorer and rebounder if given the role to properly shine. The big man is averaging 11.1 PPG and 7.5 RPG, decent numbers for a backup big man.
More importantly, Love can stroke it from deep (career 35.9%) and will be one of the best floor spacers that the Lakers will have. Of course, Kevin also played alongside LeBron James in Cleveland and won an NBA title together. Love will never be an All-Star again, but as long as he can hit shots and be a veteran presence, the Lakers would love to have him.
The only way for the Lakers to acquire Love would be if the Cavaliers buy the veteran out. Cleveland have a talented young roster but they could do well by saving money and releasing Love of his duties. The Lakers need a capable big man to replace Anthony Davis’ scoring and outside shooting because neither Dwight Howard nor DeAndre Jordan provides coverage in that regard. If the Lakers acquire Walker and Love, they could completely turn their season around with better depth and veteran leadership.
Lakers Improve Their Depth With Shooting And More Veterans
The Lakers’ season depends mainly on the availability of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the acquisitions of Kemba Walker and Kevin Love could raise the team’s stock going forward. Los Angeles cannot rely on the shooting of Russell Westbrook at the point guard spot, so Kemba Walker would be a welcomed addition whenever LeBron has the ball because the former All-Star has a natural stroke without the inconsistencies that Westbrook brings.
With Kevin Love, the Lakers are getting a versatile big man who will be motivated to play alongside The King once again while also providing floor-spacing. Los Angeles can play small with Love at center, or go big with Love and Davis forming a dynamic partnership on offense. The Purple and Gold need to stack the deck in their favor because relying on an older roster will only work with sufficient role players willing to give it their all with redemption on their minds.
Kemba is slowly getting exiled in New York and Love has been in trade rumors for years now. Both former All-Stars want to prove they can still play at a high level and can fit nicely in the Lakers’ offense with LeBron and Davis on the floor. Having the ability to play small and big with Walker and Love will make the Lakers hard to beat, and both former All-Stars could truly save the team’s season as the All-Star break nears.