Five Reasons Why Lakers Should Go Super Big To Win NBA Championship
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship in the bubble by starting a bigger, more physical player at every position. This summer the Lakers need to go super big and build a modern version of the bubble championship team.
During eighteen months since the Lakers won the championship with their small-ball-on-steroids style of basketball, Rob Pelinka seems to have forgotten what worked as he essentially downsized the Lakers at every single position. The poor roster construction was exacerbated by the Lakers’ annual plague of injuries that left Los Angeles reverting a micro-ball lineups with LeBron James starting at the five and the team bleeding rebounds and points in the paint.
Bigger guards like Green and Caldwell-Pope were replaced by smaller guards like Schroeder and Westbrook, legitimate small forwards like Kuzma and Morris were replaced by undersized wings like Reaves and Horton-Tucker. Instead of 7-footers like McGee and Howard eating up regular season minutes at center, Pelinka countered with a wave of totally ineffective rent-a-centers like undersized Harrell and over-the-hill Gasol, Drummond, and Jordan.
The Lakers have two paths to get bigger: they can leave James and Davis at the four and five and add a bigger 3&D wing like Grant or Reddish to the three or go super big by trading for a modern stretch five like Turner or Wood. Going super big and pursuing Myles Turner or Christian Wood to recreate a modern version of the lineup that won the bubble championship with a stretch rather than low post center could be the smart move for the Lakers.
Let’s look at the four reasons it would be smart for the Lakers to supersize their starting lineup by adding a modern stretch five center like Myles Turner or Christian Wood to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
1. Going Super Big Is Lakers’ Best Chance to Win Championship
The best path to for the Los Angeles Lakers to win a championship in today’s NBA is to recreate a modern version of the super big purple and gold team that won the 2020 NBA championship in the bubble eighteen months ago.
Having two quality 7-foot centers who can protect the rim and dominate the glass and allow LeBron James and Anthony Davis to play the three and four instead of the four and five was a major reason why the Lakers won #17. What we’ve seen the last two seasons as the Lakers have downsized their roster is that size still counts and the formula of having bigger and more physical players at every position is a blueprint the Lakers need to follow.
The only thing the Lakers should change in their super big formula is to replace two 7-foot low post traditional centers with two 7-foot modern centers who can both protect the rim and also stretch the floor with their shooting. The Lakers can’t count on LeBron and AD shooting over 40% from deep to win. They need to surround their superstars with 3-point shooters who can stretch defenses and prevent them from packing the paint to prevent layups.
The only way the Lakers can recreate the super big lineups need to win a championship next season is by trading for a starting center who can protect the rim and shoot the three instead of seeking a 3&D wing small forward.
2. Going Super Big Will Help Keep James and Davis Healthy
Frankly, after all the injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis the past two seasons, the biggest reason for the Lakers to go super big could easily be to keep their two injury-prone superstars from getting injured or just worn out.
It’s one thing to play Anthony Davis at the five to win sixteen playoff games and another to start him at the five for 82 regular season games. Considering his history and preference, limiting AD’s minutes at the five is common sense. Davis has appeared in just 40 of the Lakers’ 82 games this season and just 36 of the team’s 82 games last season. Lakers would be wise to limit Anthony’s minutes at the five by trading for a modern two-way center to start games.
Playing small ball all the time is like playing up and can add tremendous physical wear-and-tear to a player because a good portion of his minutes are often going to be played against a player who is bigger and more physical. That means AD is often banging against centers instead of forwards and LeBron is battling against power forward instead of small forwards. Lakers need to rethink how their rotation decisions impact their superstars’ health.
The Lakers going big by trading for a modern two-way starting center like Myles Turner or Christian Wood should relieve the front court workload and reduce the injury risk for superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
3. Going Super Big Will Improve Lakers’ Rim Protection
One of great benefits of the Lakers going big and trading for a shot blocking center like Turner or Wood rather than a 3&D wing like Grant or Redding is the ability to have an elite shot blocker on the court for 48 minutes per game.
At the heart of the Lakers’ defensive problems this season was their lack of rim protection, which fell from a league best 6.6 blocks per game in the 2020 championship season to 7th with just 5.2 blocks per game this last season. Having elite shot blocking all 48 minutes of the game should also improve the Lakers opponent field goal percentage, which at 47.0% last season was 22nd in the league compared to 44.8% in 2020, which was 8th best in the league.
Adding a young stretch five center like Myles Turner or Christian Wood would give the Lakers a bully-ball front court the league hasn’t seen for decades with three skilled rim protectors who boast elite hops, power, and athleticism. Turner has led the league in blocked shots the past two seasons with 2.8 blocks for game last year and 3.4 blocks per game this year. Wood has averaged 1.0 and 1.2 blocked shots per game over the last two seasons.
Defense wins championships and great defense starts with great rim protection. Going super big by trading for an elite shot blocking center should dramatically improve the Lakers rim protection and overall defense.
4. Going Super Big Will Improve Lakers’ Rebounding
Going super big will also solve the Lakers’ rebounding woes caused by playing with greatly undersized lineups due to poor roster construction and injuries. Controlling the glass, especially defensively, is critical to winning games.
Last season, the Los Angeles Lakers averaged 44.0 rebounds per game, which ranked 18th in the league. That compares to 45.7 rebounds per game and for a 9th best ranking during their championship run in the bubble back in 2020. The potential to dominate the back boards with a bully-ball front court of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Myles Turner is big reason for the Lakers to prioritize adding a modern two-way center instead of a smaller 3&D wing.
Adding another starting quality center like Myles Turner or Christian Wood should give the Lakers more rebounding punch than adding a small forward like Jerami Grant or Cam Reddish. Size matters when it comes to rebounding. While Myles Turner, who is taller at 6' 11" and heavier at 250 lbs, averaged just 7.1 rebounds per game last season while Christian Wood, who is shorter at 6' 9" and lighter at 200 lbs, was able to average 10.1 rebounds last season.
Control the glass and often you will control the game. Going super big by trading for a modern two-way center rather than a 3&D small forward will help the Lakers become a championship caliber rebounding team.
5. Going Super Big Will Unleash Anthony Davis at the Three
There is also a possible surprise reward for the Lakers going super big and trading for a modern two-way center, which is unleashing Anthony Davis to play small forward, the position he wants to finish his career playing.
Because they don’t want to wear out or injure 37-year old LeBron James by having him play small forward and chase smaller wing scorers around picks, the Lakers will start and play LeBron James most of his minutes at the four. That opens the door for the Lakers to move AD and his ability to defend all five positions to the three where he can become the team’s leading scorer and the shut-down defender who guards the opposing team’s top wing scorer.
Davis has reportedly told the Lakers he would ultimately like to play the three, where his creative handle and elite ballhandling would have more room to make offensive moves and attack the basket than playing the four or five. Defensively, Davis at the three could be the missing lock-down wing defender the Lakers have long coveted to guard the Kawhi Leonards, Paul Georges, Kevin Durants, and other bigger wing scorers who’ve haunted the Lakers.
Going super big with a modern version of the Lakers bully ball championship team has the potential to transform Anthony Davis into the top-five superstar who can take the baton from LeBron and become the Lakers’ future alpha.
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