The Los Angeles Lakers are in desperation mode, and their moves at the trade deadline made that desperately clear.
General Manager Rob Pelinka, reportedly with the approvals of his stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, basically overhauled the entire supporting cast around his nucleus of All-NBA forwards.
Gone are Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Kendrick Nunn, Thomas Bryant, and Damian Jones.
The foremost player will go down in history as one of the greatest examples of how fit matters more than talent in the NBA, as his lack of perimeter shooting and inconsistency on defense made him an awkward tertiary option alongside dominant paint forces in LeBron and AD.
The remaining three players failed to make their marks in their stops in LA of various lengths.
Replacing them after all the trades went down are Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Mo Bamba. On paper, the Lakers now make much more sense, with plenty of shooting and defense around James and Davis.
They’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break to showcase their new roster at full-strength, however, as LeBron has been out with a foot injury ever since becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the helm.
So far, each of the new Lakers members has impressed at different times since their debuts, but it hasn’t led to wins.
Following the All-Star break and with LeBron’s return to the court, LA and Head Coach Darvin Ham will have to work quickly if they mean to make the playoffs this season and have an outside shot of toppling the new Kevin Durant-led Phoenix Suns and the other Western Conference contenders for the title.
With only 23 games remaining after the hiatus, the Lakers will have to hit the ground running, and they’ll have a tough task with the Golden State Warriors coming around to kick off their playoff push.
Luckily for LA, the Dubs didn’t make any significant moves of their own at the deadline, aside from bringing back an injured Gary Payton II to help with their defense in the postseason.
GPIII is expected to be out at least a month, although Golden State’s original diagnosis for him had him unavailable for three months initially, so the new timeline could be subject to change as well.
The Lakers have the talent and the fit on paper to become a dangerous looming force in the West, but they’ll have to battle their poor start to the season and the clock if they plan on making any real noise in the playoffs.
GAME DAY pic.twitter.com/hciIHk8xzW
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 23, 2023
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| Title: Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers betting preview
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Feb 23, 2023