Lakers Must Embrace ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ Over ‘Three Superstars’
The Westbrook Experiment should have been proof enough to the Lakers that ‘Three Superstars’ was not the right roster building model for them to take best advantage of their superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The problem with ‘Three Superstars’ is there aren’t enough touches and basketballs to satisfy three superstars, nor enough room under the cap to build a deep and versatile roster if a team’s paying three max superstars.
The Lakers also do not have the trade assets or cap space to pursue any of the superstars like Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, or Bradley Beal that are constantly linked to them in the media. Not in the Rudy Gobert era.
As the February 9 trade deadline nears, the Lakers should ignore dreams of a third superstar and instead focus on trading for two younger, less costly promising stars who to fill out the ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ model.
How LeBron James and the Lakers have been playing, the expected return of Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV, and Austin Reaves, and the recent trade for Rui Hachimura are signs the Lakers are leaning to going all-in.
So let’s look closer at the ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ roster building model, what qualifies as a star or superstar, and which young stars the Lakers should be looking to trade for to complement LeBron and AD.
What Is Difference Between Superstar and Star Player?
In the ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ model, a ‘Superstar’ is a Top-25 player who averages 25-35 ppg and makes $40-50 million per year while a ‘Star’ is a Top–100 player who averages 15-20 ppg and makes $15–20 million per year.
The Lakers are a perfect example of a team that should have adopted the ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ model last summer instead of embracing the flawed ‘Three Superstar’ model and dumbly trading for Russell Westbrook.
Had the Los Angeles Lakers traded Russell Westbrook to the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield before training camp, they would then have acquired the perfect ‘Two Stars’ to pair with their ‘Two Superstars.’
When you consider most superstars have usage rates greater than 30%, it’s easy to see that there simply aren’t enough touches or basketballs for three superstars, which means at least one superstar has to sacrifice his game.
Why not replace that third underutilized superstar with two less costly star quality players who better fit and complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis and allow the team to build a deeper and more versatile bench.
The Lakers have three superstars and zero stars on their current roster. Their top priority before the deadline should be to trade Westbrook, Beverley, and filler for ‘Two Stars’ to complement LeBron and AD.
Why ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ Is Better Fit for Lakers?
The main reason the Lakers’ ‘Three Superstars’ lineup failed is Russell Westbrook didn’t have the 3-point shooting gravity to create spacing for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to attack the rim and be their best.
But beyond the poor fit, the harsh reality of the 'Three Superstar’ model is there aren’t enough touches and basketballs in a game to satisfy three superstars without one or more sacrificing their games for the team.
The ‘Three Superstar’ model also struggles when all three superstars make the max, which then forces the front office to fill out the rest of the team’s starting lineup and rotation with players earning near minimum salaries.
The Lakers currently have three superstars who earn $130 million per year combined. Other than the the three superstars, none of the other 12 players on the opening day roster earned earned more than $6.5 million per year. What the Lakers were completely missing was that second tier of elite starting players: the Stars, the key non-superstar starters who are Top-100 players who average 15–20 ppg and make $15–20 million per year.
The Lakers need to embrace the ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ model and replace third superstar Russell Westbrook and his $47 million contract with ‘Two Stars’ who would become starters earning $20 million per year each.
Who Are Young Stars Lakers Should Be Trying to Trade For?
The Lakers should have an easier job finding two Stars than finding a third Superstar to complement superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis since by definition there should be four times as many Stars as Superstars.
The two players whom the Lakers trade for should start alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They could go small and trade for a starting wing like Bogdanovic or go big and trade for a starting center like Turner. Regardless of whom they trade for, the Lakers at this point in time need to trade for Stars who are young enough to still have an untapped upside and who fit well enough with James and Davis to become long-term keepers.
The Pacers’ Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, Raptors Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent, Jr., and Spurs Josh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl are three of the top paired candidates for ‘Two Stars’ to go with Lakers’ ‘Two Superstars.’
The Lakers could pursue any of the above ‘Stars’ individually or go after other possible candidate like Christian Wood, Kyle Kuzma, Mike Conley, Draymond Green, DeMar DeRozan, Cam Reddish, or Nerlens Noel.
The key difference is now the Lakers should have learned from Russell Westbrook that they should be looking specifically for players who fit the ‘Two Superstars & Two Stars’ model rather than ‘Three Superstars model.’
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