With the addition of Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers have turned themselves into an attractive free agent destination. Free agents who want a shot at winning a title will strongly consider going to L.A. to play with two of the best the NBA has to offer.
The Los Angeles Lakers have finally acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans! In return for the now former Pelicans superstar, the Lakers gave up three players: Lonzo Ball, Brandom Ingram and Josh Hart. The loss of those three guys is leaving the Lakers a little thin at those positions. Combined their absence with the potential loss of several free agents, and the Lakers aren’t looking too good outside of James and Davis.
Acquiring Anthony Davis is a step in the right direction for the Lakers as they try to win another title, but his presence alone won’t get them there. We know the Lakers are interested in acquiring another superstar, most likely at the PG position. Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving are two players heavily linked to this squad. With James and Davis there, it seems pretty likely they’ll add a third superstar to the roster. However, even a third superstar won’t get the Lakers a title if the rest of the roster doesn’t shape up.
We all know superstars are a big part of success in today’s NBA. Superstars get all the praise when things go right, and all the blame when things go wrong. What we tend to forget, is that a team is more than just superstars. A championship caliber team has successful role players too.
So, just because the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis and will likely land another superstar, it doesn’t mean their work is done. After acquiring their stars, the Lakers need to focus on building the rest of the roster with role players who will fit alongside them. Let’s take a look at five role players the Lakers should pursue in free agency this offseason.
Five free agents the Lakers should pursue
1. JJ Redick, SG
LeBron James is at his best when he has reliable shooters around him who can get open and knock down big shots. James has a down low presence in Anthony Davis now, but he still needs players on the outside. JJ Redick would be the perfect alongside James and Davis.
Redick may be getting up there in age, but he’s still one of the best three point shooters in the league. Last season with the 76ers, Redick shot 39.7% from three-point range. We’ve watched Redick knock down three-point shots for years, and I think he’d only be more lethal from outside with James and Davis on his team. LeBron James and Anthony Davis demand attention pretty much anywhere. With teams focused on stopping them, it’ll give JJ Redick a lot of open shots. If Redick can shoot 39.7% from three while being surrounded by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, I have no doubt he’ll shoot better with James and Davis around.
I should mention that Redick isn’t just a three-point shooter. Redick can space the floor with his shooting from inside the arc as well, as evidenced by his 50.2% shooting on two-point FGs. Another bonus to having Redick, is that he’s one of the better free throw shooters in the NBA, having shot 89.4% from the line last season. Redick’s ability to space the floor from outside, inside, and knock down free throws, makes him a perfect fit for the 2019-2020 Lakers.
2. Danny Green, SG
I believe Danny Green would be a great fit for this Lakers team for many of the same reasons JJ Redick would be. Danny Green shot a career high on three-point shots last season, making 45.5% of his shots from that range. Just like Redick, Green would benefit from having James and Davis demanding so much attention. He could move around, get open, and knock down open shots off passes from James and Davis.
Much like JJ Redick, Green can also space the floor from inside the arc, as he shot 48.7% from inside the arc this past season. I do believe JJ Redick is a little bit more of a scorer than Green is. Redick averaged 18.1 points per game last season, while Green averaged just 10.3 and has never averaged more than 11.7 in a season. With that being said, Green makes up for it in other ways.
While being a very good three-point shooter, Danny Green is one of the better defenders in the league. I would consider him one of the most underrated defenders, as he doesn’t get a ton of attention for it. If you haven’t watched Green’s defense, go back and watch him in the NBA Finals against Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. He played a big part in slowing them down.
The reason I bring up Green’s defense, is because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about LeBron’s teams in recent history, it’s that they’re not good defensively. Anthony Davis will improve the defense, but he can’t be everywhere at once, and you need more than one good defender to be a good defensive team. Danny Green would take the Lakers’ defense up another notch, all while playing a crucial role in their offense at the same time.
3. Patrick Beverly, PG
Patrick Beverly shot 39.7% from three-point range last season, which is the same as JJ Redick, but I don’t believe he’s anywhere near the three-point threat Redick is. Instead of being on this list for his shooting ability and potential to space the floor for James and Davis, Beverly is here because of his toughness and defense.
How many times have we seen Beverly get in the head of his opponent because of tough defense? Countless times. One thing I love about Beverly’s defense, is that it doesn’t really matter how big or small a defender is. Beverly defends with the same intensity regardless of who he’s defending. That kind of defensive ability is very valuable, especially to a team who struggled defensively last season.
While I do believe Patrick Beverly would be a very valuable addition to this team, I think he’d be best as the backup PG. If the Lakers do end up signing Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, having Beverly would give them a great set of PGs who could constantly be contributing to the team. With not much depth on the bench right now, the Lakers need to add a player like Patrick Beverly to it to give them a major boost.
4. Bojan Bogdanovic, SF
Of all the free agents I’ve mentioned so far, I think Bogdanovic is the least likely to join the Lakers. He had a breakout season in the absence of Victor Oladipo, averaging 18.0 points on 49.7% shooting. It really was Bogdanovic who kept the Pacers alive after Oladipo went down. It’s for that reason I believe he can get more money elsewhere than the Lakers could offer him, especially if they sign a third superstar.
Another problem with signing Bogdanovic, is that there’s a good chance he’d come off the bench. There’s a good chance he could start, but the Lakers could possibly ask him to come off the bench to strengthen their second unit. After how he played last season, would he be willing to do so? Would he be willing to take a pay cut for a chance to win a title? There are some questions here, but if they could somehow sign him, it would greatly benefit this team.
Bogdanovic can do a little bit of everything. He can shoot the three, make a high percentage of two-point shots, hit free throws at a consistent rate, rebound, do a little passing and play decent defense. A player like Bogdanovic could be used in all sorts of different ways if he was surrounded by guys like LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With his scoring ability, it’d take a ton of pressure off the superstars, especially when they’re having an off night.
5. Enes Kanter, PF/C
A lot of NBA fans don’t like Enes Kanter for various reasons, but I’m one of his biggest fans. Why? He does the dirty work. Kanter ranked fifth in the NBA in offensive rebounds last season, averaging 3.8 per game. Can you imagine what LeBron James and Anthony Davis could do with all those second chances to score? The Lakers need a player like Kanter on their roster.
Another thing I love about Kanter, is that he can be productive in multiple roles. When he came to Portland last season, he went there knowing he wasn’t going to be the starting C. Despite not being the starter, Kanter still produced. Kanter did get the chance to start due to an injury. When his chance to start came, he took it and ran with it.
It’s possible Kanter could start for the Lakers next to Anthony Davis, but he would also be a great addition to their bench if they were to sign him. Kanter would give the Lakers valuable minutes off the bench when Anthony Davis goes off the floor, and I’m sure there would be several occasions when they’re on the floor together. Anthony Davis averaged 12.0 rebounds last season, while Enes Kanter averaged 9.8. If these two were on the floor together, teams will be hard pressed to get many second chance opportunities on offense.