Three Shot Blocking Stretch Centers Who Would Make the Lakers Bigger!
The Lakers been outrebounded and outscored in the paint so badly when they go small with Anthony Davis at the five that Frank Vogel has reverted to starting DeAndre Jordan at center. They obviously need to get bigger.
The Lakers have three options to get bigger. They could wait for 6' 8" 36-year old Trevor Ariza to get healthy or they could trade some combination of Horton-Tucker, Nunn, and filler for a stretch center or bigger 3&D wing. Considering his age and they haven’t even seen him play yet, the Lakers aren’t going to be content to wait for Ariza. They know they need to make a big trade to fix the roster imbalance that Westbrook and injuries have wrought.
There are several reasons why trading for a stretch center might be better than trading for a small forward, including that it would modernize the Lakers’ game while allowing LeBron and AD to stay at the three and four. Trading for a center would allow Vogel to play his preferred two bigs and have an elite center who could space the floor and protect the rim on the court for 48 minutes of each game. That would transform the Lakers.
Meanwhile, trading for a bigger (6' 7" to 6' 9") 3&D wing would still require the Lakers to play small ball with LeBron James at the four and Anthony Davis at the five. I suspect Vogel may be lobbying to trade for a second big. Which way the Lakers ultimately go will probably be determined by which player they’re able to make a deal for. Every team needs bigger 3&D wings so the Lakers just might have better luck trading for a modern two-way center.
Here are three modern center trade targets who can stretch the floor and protect the rim and have the two-way versatility to play big or small. Adding one of them would immediately make the Lakers bigger and better.
1. PACERS’ MYLES TURNER
25-Years Old. 6' 11,” 250 lb center. 2-Yrs, $17.5M.
Averaging 12.7/7.5/1.1/3.0. Shooting 52.3/40.4/69.8%.
Trading for Myles Turner should be the Lakers top priority once all of their players will be eligible to be traded on January 15th. There is no other player now on the trade market who could match the impact Turner could have.
Myles’ 40% 3-point shooting and league best rim protection would upgrade Lakers at both ends. He would also allow Vogel to play his preferred two bigs, Anthony Davis his preferred four, and LeBron James his preferred three. There’s a chance the Lakers’ experiment with Anthony Davis at the four may be over. While LA could still trade for a 3&D wing, the smarter move in the end could be to do what’s natural and go big by trading for Myles Turner.
The beauty of trading for Turner is he allows the Lakers to play big or small. Imagine a Lakers’ front court anchored by the league’s #1 and #3 best shot blockers, both of whom can stretch the floor with the three or attack the rim. The Lakers have an opportunity to solidify what has been an rotating door at center the last three years. While centers may not be valued as much as they once were, Turner could be the catalyst that transforms the Lakers.
The Lakers should trade anybody on the roster other than James or Davis to acquire Turner, starting with a package of THT, Nunn, and whatever else Indy wants. Turner is the best solution to fix the Lakers’ size problems.
2. ROCKETS’ CHRISTIAN WOOD
26-Years Old. 6/ 9,” 214 lb center. 2-Yrs, $13.6M.
Averaging 15.5/11.0/2.4/0.9. Shooting 44.4/32.1/54.8%
Christian Wood is the same age as Myles Turner but was a late developer who’s played in less than half of Turner’s 400 NBA games. He’s potentially a better scorer and rebounder than Turner but not as good a shot blocker.
Wood’s an impressive talent who has the potential to be a miniature version of Anthony Davis. Offensively, he’s got a great stroke from three and attacks the rim with ferocity and physicality. He’s a better 3-point shooter than 32%. Defensively, he’s not as good a shot blocker but is more athletic than Turner and could develop into the kind of defender who can actually guard five positions. He’s less proven and clearly a bigger risk and reward than Turner.
Like Turner, Wood would give the Lakers the ability to play big or small. And for the version of small they play to be a total aberration of name small ball. We’re talking about a very big, fast, and athletic team playing small ball. The Lakers may end up trading for a big 3&D wing but it will likely be because that’s the best deal they could get, not because they really want to go small with AD at the five. Wood is not Turner but he would be a gread add.
And like Turner, Wood adds youth and athleticism as well as size to the Lakers’ starters and roster while allowing Frank to play two bigs, LeBron to stay at the three, and Anthony to play his preferred power forward.
3. MAGIC’S MO BAMBA
23-Years Old. 7' 0,” 231 lb center. 2-Yrs, $7.5M.
Averaging 11.1/9.2/1.8/2.1. Shooting 45.4/34.1/70.8%.
Mo Bamba is having the best season in his young career. At 23, Mo is the youngest of the three stretch center targets. Finally getting a chance to start and play 30 minutes per game, Bamba is finally starting to shine.
Bamba at 23 is the youngest, biggest, and lowest paid of the three stretch centers the Lakers should target at the trade deadline. Like Wood, he’s only played in around 170 NBA games compared to over 400 for Myles Turner. Mo is probably the biggest gamble of the three stretch centers featured in this article but he also would have the least expensive price. For example, the Lakers might be able to get him straight up for Kendrick Nunn or THT.
But like with Turner and Wood, Bamba would give the Lakers the flexibility to play big or small, versatility that’s invaluable in the playoffs. There were questions about Bamba’s motor and work ethic but he now seems to get it. Because he only makes $7.5 million, it’s hard for the Magic to get fair value for him unless it’s in the form of draft picks, which does not bode well for the Lakers being able to trade for him. The question is what will they give up?
Mo Bamba would be a gamble but fits the mold of the modern NBA center who can stretch the floor and attack the rim on offense and protect the rim and challenge shooters on defense. Low risk, high reward trade target.
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