Desperately seeking a small ball center!

  1. Jonathan Williams. An undrafted rookie from Gonzaga, Williams is on a G-League two-way contract, which means he can’t spend more than 45 days playing for the Lakers. Since arriving 4 games ago, Jonathan’s been indispensable playing backup small ball center behind JaVale McGee. He’s averaged 5.7 points, 3.7rebounds, 0.7 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game and has been a big part of the team’s improved play the last three games.
  2. Michael Beasley. Signed as a free agent after a stellar year coming off the bench for the Knicks last season, Beasley has struggled to earn playing time on the Lakers’ deep roster. Now that the Lakers have given up on trying to turn Kuzma into a small ball center, they’re likely to change their focus to Beasley. The one big advantage that Beasley has is his ability to stretch the floor as he shot over 40% from deep the last two seasons.
  3. Moritz Wagner. The rookie stretch 4/5 has been sidelined since training camp with a deep bone bruise but could finally see action next week. Like Beasley, Wagner would be more of an offensive than defensive solution as backup center. He does have ability to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting but would likely struggle mightily to defend as small ball five. Just assigned to the G-League, Wagner is an energizer like Josh Hart.
  4. LeBron James. So what happened to all the talk of LeBron playing small ball center in the Lakers’ version of the Warriors’ Death Lineup? We finally got the answer last night, when Luke went small to close the game versus the Nuggets with Lonzo, Hart, Lance, Kuzma, and LeBron with the King actually playing small ball center and guarding Nicola Jokic for 9 scoreless possessions. Luke will save the Death Lineup for big games and playoffs.
  5. Willie Cauley-Stein. I’m a big fan of WCS’s speed, athleticism, and ability to defend all five positions, which is exactly what the Lakers need as a small ball center to backup McGee. While he’s has gotten off to a good start, averaging 16.4 points, 7.4 boards, and 0.4 blocks in 29 minutes per game, Willie’s on the last year of his contract and isn’t part of the Kings’ front court of the future. The Lakers would be wise to talk to the Kings.

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