Four Modern Centers Who Would Transform Lakers Into Champions

9 min readMay 2, 2024

The Los Angeles Lakers are at a major franchise crossroads. Their top priority this summer should be to acquire a championship caliber modern two-way center to start alongside Anthony Davis in a two-bigs lineup.

The one thing last season and this season should have made perfectly clear is the Lakers need to get bigger and more physical not only to be their best version of themselves but also to match up better against bigger teams.
It’s no secret the Lakers with James and Davis dominate smaller teams with their size and physicality but struggle against bigger teams with low-gravity centers like Jokic and Sabonis who match up well against Anthony Davis.

If there is one consistent criticism of the Lakers’ front office the past three years, it’s their failure to pair Anthony Davis with a championship quality modern starting center to better defend and bang with Jokic and Sabonis.
The Lakers’ failure to pay more than minimum salary for a second big to play alongside Anthony Davis the past three years was further exacerbated by their failure to even land a backup to replace AD when on the bench.

Smart NBA front offices build rosters to beat the teams they know they have to go through. For the Lakers, that obstacle is the Denver Nuggets and Nikola Jokic. The Lakers need to pair AD with a modern two-way center.
Trading for a third superstar like Trae Young won’t solve the Lakers’ need for a second big and they won’t have draft capital or matching contracts left to trade for one, leaving them stuck again with minimum-salary centers.

The Lakers need to figure out what they really need to beat the few teams against whom they do not match up well. The answer is obviously a second starting big who can complement and unleash AD on offense and defense.
While reports have them targeting guards to be their third star, the Lakers would be smart to target dynamic young big men with legitimate upside and potential that could elevate the team to legit championship status.

The time has finally come for the Lakers to prioritize going big and trade for a modern championship quality starting center. Here are four centers L.A. could pair with Anthony Davis to transform the Lakers into champs.

#1 - Utah Jazz’ Lauri Markkanen

MARKKANEN: 7' 0", 240 lbs, 26-yrs, PF 54%/CE 44%, $18.4M for 1-yr
23.2/8.2/2.0/0.5/0.9 on 16.2/8.0/5.0 shots for 48.0/39.9/89.9%

The Los Angeles Lakers’ top choice to be their new starting center is Lauri Markkanen, whose age, salary, and elite size, athleticism, and volume 3-point shooting project him as the perfect second big to play alongside AD.

Markkanen has legitimate superstar ability to complement and unleash Lakers’ superstar Davis at both ends of the court. Defensively, he can guard the bigger wide-body centers like Jokic and Sabonis who give AD trouble.
Offensively, he has the elite 3-point gravity that attracts opposing team’s best defenders like a magnet and all but guarantees Davis the space and driving lanes he needs to unleash the best superstar version of himself.

Markkanen will be entering the last year of his Utah contract this summer, meaning the Jazz need to sign him to a long-term extension or trade him for another player and multiple draft picks before he becomes a free agent.
While Utah’s tough second half of the season has given them a harsh dose of reality, the Lakers will still need to present the Jazz with an offer they cannot refuse if they hope to convince them to trade Lauri Markkanen.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ best offer for the Jazz’ Lauri Markkanen would be a package of Rui Hachimura and Jalen Hood-Schifino to match salaries, three protected Lakers’ first round picks, and three first round pick swaps.
Because the draft capital they would have to give up would be substantial, the Lakers would also have to negotiate an extension with Markkanen to insure he would be locked up long-term as Anthony Davis’ co-superstar.

Unlike the other three center prospects the Lakers should consider as future front court partners for Anthony Davis, Lauri Markkanen is the only candidate who legitimately has the potential to become a real superstar.
Additionally, Markkanen is the best volume 3-point shooter among the four centers the Lakers should consider. He’s shooting 39.9% on 8.0 3-point shots per game. Lauri would replace Rui in the Lakers’ starting lineup.

Lauri Markkanen should be the Lakers’ top candidate to be their center of the future next to Davis and James because he has the greatest potential to become a legitimate superstar and is best volume 3-point shooting center.

#2 - Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner

TURNER: 6' 11", 250 lbs, 28-yrs old, CE 100%, $20.0M for 1-yr
16.9/6.9/1.3/1.8/0.5 on 11.9/4.2/4.1 shots for 51.7/34.9/77.5%

Pacers center Myles Turner should be the Los Angeles Lakers’ second choice to be their new starting center as his proven ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim make him an ideal second big to play with AD.

A proven elite modern center who can stretch the floor and protect the rim, Turner would be a great fit alongside Anthony Davis to immediately give the Lakers a dynamic two-bigs lineup that could dominate both ends.
While he’s not the 3-point shooter Lauri Markkanen is, Myles Turner has enough 3-point shooting prowess offensively to stretch the floor and is one of the best overall shot blockers and defensive centers in the entire league.

Turner will be on the last year of his 2-year extension this summer and will earn $20.0 million. While only 28, Myles’ timeline is not an ideal match for the younger Pacers’ roster. The time may have finally come to trade him.
The Lakers have long coveted Myles Turner as the perfect front court partner for Anthony Davis in a two-bigs lineup but have been hesitant to trade valuable draft capital for a player who is not ‘per se’ a superstar.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ best offer for Pacers’ center Myles Turner would be a package that included Rui Hachimura and Jalen Hood-Schifino to match salaries plus two protected first round picks and two pick swaps.
Like with Markkanen, the Lakers would need to sign Turner to a long-term extension since they would be giving up essentially four first round picks to trade for him. Turner would replace Hachimura in the starting lineup.

What sets Turner apart from the other four Lakers’ starting center candidates is his proven experience and track record as a starting NBA center and history as one of the best shot blockers in the entire league.
While Markkanen has superstar upside offensively, Turner has true star potential defensively because of his elite rim protection and unique ability to defend smaller, quicker guards and wings when switched onto them.

Myles Turner should be the Lakers’ second choice to be their center of the future next to Davis and James because of his elite ability to protect the rim and real DPOY potential as well as proven ability to create spacing.

#3 - Houston Rockets’ Alperen Sengun

SENGUN: 6' 11", 243 lbs, 21-yrs, CE 100%, $5.2M for 2-yrs
21.1/9.3/5.0/0.7/1.2 on 15.6/1.8/5.6 shots for 53.7/29.7/69.3%

The Los Angeles Lakers’ third option to be their new starting center is the Rockets 21-year old center Alperen Sengun, who has the size, demeanor, and skill sets to develop into one of the best offensive centers in the league.

Already an All-Star at 21, Sengun has everything a prospect needs to develop into an elite modern two-way NBA center. His footwork and array of shots at the rim remind observers of a younger, more athletic Jokic.
Surrounded by a deep and talented young roster, Alperen has shown he is going to be a major force at center going forward. He’s still young and at times immature but there’s no question he has superstar potential.

But since Sengun injured an ankle against the Kings on March 10th, the Rockets have been on a red hot tear, winning 9 straight before losing to the Mavericks, and closing to within 2 losses of the 10th place Warriors.
Led by the emergence of Jalen Green as a superstar and a deep, talented young roster, the Rockets are thriving with the wide-open offense they’re able to play without the low post center Sengun clogging up the paint.

The result has led to conversations whether Green and Sengun could be the Rockets future superstar duo and whether their respective games fit well and complement each other or whether one of them should be traded.
Earlier in the season, the Rockets appeared to be willing to trade Green and his name had been mentioned in numerous trade rumors. Surprisingly, the recent Houston hot streak has led to rumors that Sengun could be moved.

Just like with Markkanen and Turner, the Lakers would have to give the Rockets an offer they could not refuse to get them to trade Alperen Sengun. In other words, L.A. would need to offer Houston significant draft capital.
A package of Max Christie to match salaries, two first round picks, and two first round swaps could be enough to motivate the Rockets to trade Sengun, especially if Houston looks to accumulate draft capital for a mega move.

Alperen Sengun should be the Lakers’ third option as their new starting center. While he is still young and raw, there’s no question Sengun has the raw talent to become a superstar two-way center for L.A. going forward.

#4 - Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac

ISAAC: 6' 10", 230 lbs, 26-yrs, PF 87%/SF 13%, $17.4M for 1-yr
6.9/4.4/0.9/1.2/0.7 on 4.9/1.9/1.5 shots for 52.2/39.6/72.0%

Orlando Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac should be the Los Angeles Lakers’ fourth option as their future starting center now that he’s finally recovered from the knee injuries that cost him three of the last five years.

With his injury history hopefully at last behind him, Jonathan has worked hard and earned a place in the Magic’s dramatically improved rotation, making contributions at both ends averaging just 15.4 minutes per game.
After missing all of 2020–21 and 2021–22 and all but 11 games in 2022–23, Isaac has played in 52 of Orlando’s 75 games, shooting 52.2% from field, 39.2% from deep, and 72.7% from line, averaging 1.2 blocks and 0.7 steals.

While Jonathan Isaac’s rough injury history makes it hard to give up serious draft capital for him, his unique sets of two-way skills make him a very tantalizing prospect. Isaac has superstar potential at both ends of the court.
Offensively, his ability to stretch the floor and attack the paint make Isaac the ideal front court mate to pair with Anthony Davis in a two-bigs lineup. Defensively, Jonathan would give the Lakers a second elite defensive star.

Jonathan Isaac has 1-year left on his Orlando contract and while he has been playing well, there are still long-time concerns over his knee and his path to a starting role is blocked by Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter, Jr..
The timing may be right for the Magic to now trade Jonathan Isaac for veteran rotation depth and draft picks. Lakers could offer Rui Hachimura to match salaries, a protected first round pick, and a first round pick swap.

Like with the other starting center candidates, the Lakers are essentially trading elite draft capital in the form of picks and swaps for younger bigs with upside who would fit well as starting centers next to Anthony Davis.
Since Isaac has such a negative injury history and is not even a starter or playing staring minutes, the Lakers’ best offer does not include as many picks and/or swaps as their offers for the other starting center prospects.

Jonathan Isaac should be the Lakers’ fourth starting center candidate despite his injury history and lack of a starting role because he’s the best defender among the candidates and, if healthy, could be a superstar.

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