Comparing Lakers 2022-23 Roster to 2019-20 Bubble Championship Roster
There is so much insane emotion surrounding Westbrook and the Lakers’ last season it made sense to objectively compare this season’s current and possible rosters with that of the 2019–20 bubble championship team.
Comparing the Lakers’ current roster with the bubble championship team’s roster is important to see how the current team stacks up against the best team the Lakers have had since James and Davis arrived in Los Angeles. Truthfully, there has been so much controversy over the Lakers’ roster decisions the past two seasons, everybody has forgotten that the 2019–20 bubble championship roster was simply LeBron, AD, and role players.
Frankly, the bubble championship team had many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the Lakers current roster, short on wings and 3-point shooting but long on exceptional athleticism and championship defense. Most importantly, however, this year’s Lakers roster will also have the big advantage of starting the season with a fully healthy and LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the first time in three years just like the bubble champs.
So Let’s compare the top-10 rotation players in the Lakers current roster as well as the same roster but after a potential trade with the Indiana Pacers and see how both stack up against the bubble championship roster.
Current 2022–23 Roster vs. Bubble Championship Roster
Not unsurprisingly, when you ignore the insane emotion surrounding Russell Westbrook and last season, the Los Angeles Lakers’ current roster stacks up very well against their 2019–20 bubble championship team.
Unspoken is the reality this season should be LeBron James’ and Anthony Davis’ best opportunity to win their second NBA championship because they’ll both be fully injury free and well rested just like in the bubble.
Missing the playoffs is the best thing that could have happened for the Lakers last season as it gave both of their superstars desperately needed time to recover and rest like the Covid shutdown did before the bubble.
Like every Lakers roster, a healthy and well rested James and Davis is the key to the Lakers’ championship hopes. Whether the Lakers go with what they have or make a trade to upgrade, it comes down to LeBron and AD.
The key to winning again for the Lakers is not necessarily having a third star but having multiple role players who not only can step up when needed but also complement and help James and Davis become better.
That’s why the Lakers need to trade Russ. Aside from the risk that he could implode and destroy team chemistry, the Lakers simply need the shooting and size they would get by trading him for multiple rotation players.
Topping the Lakers’ options should be trading Russ and a pick and a swap or 2 picks to the Pacers for Turner and Hield, followed by upgrading the forwards who backup superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While the current Los Angeles Lakers’ roster could win a championship if James and Davis repeat their bubble performances, the competition this season will demand even more than when they won in the bubble.
Post-Trade 2022–23 roster vs. Bubble Championship Roster
The only reason the Lakers haven’t sent Westbrook and their 2027 and 2029 first round picks to the Pacers for Turner and Hield is they’re hoping to be able to wait and see if Kyrie Irving or another superstar hits the market.
Once Rob Pelinka decides that’s not going to happen or the Lakers start to struggle or Russ becomes in issue, expect the Lakers to make a quick decision to trade with Indy rather than allowing the team to fall behind. While giving up two unprotected picks is a high price, the Pacers trade gives the Lakers a chance to compete right now and to build a post-LeBron James Lakers’ team that can legitimately contend in 2027 and 2029 too.
It will be a tribute to Darvin Ham if he can really get Westbrook to be a positive factor long enough for the Lakers to have an opportunity to optimize what they can get in return for their two unprotected picks.
Should Rob Pelinka be able to pull off a trade for Irving or a trade for Turner and Hield that only cost a pick and a swap, it would be a coup for Lakers’ beleaguered VP of Basketball Operations and General Manager.
The thing that makes Myles Turner the perfect fit as the Lakers’ starting center is how he could be the key more than any other player on the Lakers to unlocking the greatness of Anthony Davis and his post LeBron upside. There is no bigger decision confronting the Lakers this season than can Davis take the baton from James. After the bubble, everybody expected that was what would happen but injuries and James’ durability said ‘not yet.’
The one thing that’s clear, though, is the Pacers’ trade would provide desperately needed size and shooting and elevate the Los Angeles Lakers from a projected 34-win team to a legitimate championship contender.
How Long Can Lakers Wait Before Trading Westbrook?
Pelinka has played hard ball on two picks so far, offering them only for superstar players like Kyrie Irving or Donovan Mitchell. While they covet Turner and Hield, they don’t believe that they should give up both picks.
Right now, the Lakers are likely to plow ahead with Westbrook getting a chance to start and fit. Unless the indecisive Pacers finally decide to tank instead of hover at mediocrity, the Lakers plan to play this out step by step. Meanwhile, the Lakers will try to deploy an updated version of the double big strategy that won them a championship in the bubble with an eye on how things are going for Kyrie in Brooklyn and Turner and Hield in Indy.
Hopefully, LeBron James and Anthony Davis will dominate and the Lakers will win enough, Russ will fit in, and Darvin will have them playing tough defense and buying time for options to clear and positions to improve. December 15, when most recently signed players can be traded, marks one third of the season. Unless the Lakers are doing very well, they’d be two thirds of the way through the season by the February 9 trade deadline.
There’s the fear Russ implodes, things blow up in Brooklyn or a new suitor emerges in Indiana. The Lakers need to remember very day spent waiting for Kyrie is a day they should have spent integrating Turner and Hield. Regardless of how well the team is playing with Westbrook, the Lakers need to understand that Turner and Hield will not only make them dramatically better but need as much of the season together as possible.
The Westbrook for Turner and Hield trade upgrades the Lakers 2022–23 roster to be better than the bubble championship roster and a legitimate contender this season and this decade, including in 2027 and 2029.