Three reasons for the Lakers to Boogie?
Why a healthy DeMarcus Cousins could be the missing puzzle piece to transform the Lakers into a championship dynasty
While positionless basketball rules the day, the game is still about matchups. That’s why signing free agent DeMarcus Cousins next summer could be the missing puzzle piece to transform the Lakers into a championship dynasty.
Other than stealing Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson from the Warriors, no move could better elevate the Lakers to legitimate championship contender status than signing center DeMarcus Cousins as a free agent this summer. Boogie is the nightmare matchup the Lakers need to beat the Warriors and Rockets and the perfect fit as the Robin to play alongside LeBron’s Batman, without getting in the way of the development of the Lakers’ young core.
Best of all, the Lakers will get the benefit of a free preview with the Warriors to make sure Boogie has recovered from his Achilles injury and can fit well with a team that plays an up-tempo offense and switch-everything defense.
They’ll not only find out whether Boogie is still a top-five NBA center but will get an opportunity to see how he would fit with LeBron and their talented young core by watching how the Warriors integrate him into their systems.
1. Boogie would give the Lakers the matchup edge over Warriors!
To contend for a championship, the Lakers need to build a roster capable of matching up with the Golden State Warriors, a virtually impossible challenge since the Warriors’ starting lineup could boast five legitimate superstars.
Right now, LeBron James would be the only starter and power forward the only position where the Lakers would have a matchup advantage over the Warriors, assuming Cousins recovers and takes over as the starting center.
Of course, that changes next year when Cousins becomes an unrestricted free agent seeking a $30 million max contract while the cap-strapped Warriors will be limited to offering him a 20% raise over last year’s $5.3 million.
But Cousins’ free agency next summer could give the Lakers the opportunity to build a bruising front court that could dominate the Warriors, who’ve often been vulnerable and struggled to deal with physically overpowering teams.
A bully-ball LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins front court could punish the more finesse Warriors and take them out of their elite small ball game. It could be the perfect weapon to enable the Lakers to dethrone the Warriors.
The combination of LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins would give the Lakers two of the most powerful and difficult-to-guard offensive players in the league, matchup nightmares who force double teams from opponents. Most important of all, the Lakers would essentially be guaranteed to have favorable matchups at center and power forward versus every team in the league, including the rival Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.
2. Boogie would not limit development of the Lakers’ young stars!
Pursuing DeMarcus Cousins as their second superstar not only gives the Lakers a second dominant player but also gives the team’s talented young players an opportunity to accelerate their growth and become superstars.
To become a legitimate championship team, the Lakers need two or more of their budding young stars to enjoy breakout seasons. That means Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart must get the minutes and roles needed to take their games to the next level, which could be difficult if the Lakers sign a wing or small forward superstar like Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler, who could hinder the development of Ingram, Kuzma, and Hart.
That’s why signing a center rather than another small forward makes sense. By signing Boogie, the Lakers would satisfy their greatest positional need while giving their talented young wings the opportunity to grow and develop. We saw how the Celtics’ young stars responded when injuries gave them the opportunity in last year’s playoffs. It’s important for the Lakers’ short term and long term success that their young players get similar opportunities.
Whomever the Lakers sign as their second superstar next summer needs to be the missing puzzle piece that elevates the Lakers to championship contention as it will be a long time before they’ll have cap space again for a superstar.
In reality, positionless basketball is a misnomer because positions still matter. Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, or even Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson, would take valuable playing time and important roles from the young Lakers.
3. Boogie would prepare the Lakers for the next wave of centers!
While centers continue to be devalued and NBA teams play more and more small ball, there’s a wave coming of new school centers who can play in the post and beyond the arc that are redefining and transforming the position.
Signing free agent center DeMarcus Cousins next summer would not only elevate the Lakers to immediate championship contention but also prepare them for the wave of modern centers who are emerging, including young veterans like Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Al Horford, and Kristaps Porzingis and rookies DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mohamed Bamba, Jaren Jackson, Jr., and Wendel. Carter, Jr.
The NBA is the ultimate copycat league we may see more and more teams decide that ‘going big’ might be a better strategy to win than ‘going small,’ especially as the league’s young stud centers start to win and dominate. Signing DeMarcus Cousins would position the Lakers to be ready for the inevitable wave of talented modern centers who were going to revolutionize the position and refocus offensive strategies back to an inside-out game.
Most importantly, the Lakers will need a dominating center like DeMarcus Cousins once they reach the NBA Finals and need to defeat the Boston Celtics and Al Horford or Anthony Davis or the Philadelphia 76ers and Joel Embiid. Ultimately, Boogie is the free agent superstar the Lakers need to beat the Warriors or Rockets in the Western Conference Finals and the Celtics or 76ers in the NBA Finals and transform the Lakers into a championship dynasty.
The Lakers will be watching the Warriors’ experiment with DeMarcus Cousins with mixed emotions. While they’re eager to see a healthy, dominant Boogie, they also don’t want to see him help the Warriors defend their championship.
A healthy DeMarcus Cousins could be the missing puzzle piece to transform the Lakers into a championship dynasty, giving them the matchup edge over the Warriors, accelerating the growth of their young stars, and preparing them for the wave of young studs who will revolutionize the center position.
If DeMarcus Cousins can prove he’s healthy and still a top-five NBA center and his stint with the Warriors shows he can fit with a run-and-gun offense and switch-everything defense, it will be time for the Lakers to Boogie!