Should Lakers Go for Superstar Big 3 or Deeper Roster for James and Davis?

The Los Angeles Lakers seem focused on trading Russell Westbrook to the Brooklyn Nets for Kyrie Irving and committing the franchise to a second straight season where most of their salary cap went to three superstars.

With the Nets paralyzed over what to do with Kevin Durant, progress on a Westbrook for Irving trade has stalled, which could be the perfect time for the Lakers to pause and consider whether trading for Kyrie is the best path. While there’s a logic and symmetry to the Lakers and Nets swapping problem superstars, committing all of your salary cap to three players makes it difficult to build a championship roster around your superstars.

The Nets’ implosion opened a door to a seemingly impossible gift from the basketball gods, a chance to dump Russell Westbrook and receive in return superstar point guard Kyrie Irving and elite shooting guard Joe Harris. Frankly, the Lakers and LeBron were so excited about the chance to swap Russ for two legitimate starters, including a superstar and an elite 3-point shooter that they may not have thoroughly considered their other options.

So let’s compare the Lakers’ rotations if they traded Westbrook, Horton-Tucker, and two unprotected first round picks for Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris or Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, T.J. McConnell, and Patrick Beverley.

1. Trade for Irving and Harris

The above trade sends Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, and the Lakers 2027 and 2029 unprotected first round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving and elite two guard Joe Harris.

Irving would immediately become the Lakers’ starting point guard and the team’s lead scorer and playmaker, while Harris would become the starting shooting guard and needed high volume, high percentage 3-point shooter. While Irving, Harris, James, and Davis is a great foursome, the starting center position would be between two young unproven centers, with 27-year old Damian Jones likely beating out 24-year old Thomas Bryant.

That would give the Lakers a starting five of Irving, Harris, James, Davis, and Jones with backups of Nunn, Reaves, Brown Jr, Johnson, and Bryant and reserves of Christie, Walker IV, Toscano-Anderson, and Gabriel.

Is that a championship starting lineup and rotation? Assuming James, Davis, and Irving all are healthy and Kyrie is on his best contract year behavior, the Lakers should be able to compete for a championship again. The biggest question marks with this superstar laden roster is whether Jones and Bryant can provide the 3-point gravity to help the team’s spacing or the shot blocking and rim protection to anchor the team’s defense.

Point guard and center are where Darvin Ham wants the Lakers’ best two defenders. They’re also key positions for spacing on offense. The problem is Kyrie Irving and Damian Jones are not Jrue Holiday or Brook Lopez.

2. Trades for Turner, Hield, McConnell, and Beverley

The first trade sends Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 unprotected first round draft picks to the Pacers for Turner, Hield, and McConnell. The second trade sends Horton-Tucker and Gabriel to the Jazz for Beverley.

Turner would immediately become the Lakers’ starting stretch five center, Hield the starting shooting guard and volume 3-point shooter, Beverley the starting point guard and lead defender, and McConnell backup point guard. What makes this starting lineup and rotation better than one with Irving and Harris is having elite defenders in Patrick Beverley and Myles Turner manning the critical point guard and center positions in Ham’s defense.

That would give the Lakers a starting five of Beverley, Hield, James, Davis, and Turner with backups of McConnell, Reaves, Brown Jr, Johnson, and Jones and reserves of Nunn, Christie, Walker IV, Toscano-Anderson, and Bryant.

Is this a championship starting lineup and rotation? While it lacks three superstars, it has Beverley at point guard and Turner at stretch center, both of whom can fill the key two-way roles of Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez. What we’re seeing is the same challenge the team faced last season, which is having to make a philosophical decision whether three superstars or two superstars with a more talented starting lineup and more depth on bench.

The Lakers need to stop chasing players because of their name and instead focus on adding players to the team whose offensive and defensive skillsets better complement and unleash LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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LakerTom

LakerTom

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.