Why the Lakers Need Kemba Walker!
If the Lakers are serious about solving their 3-point woes, Kemba Walker should be their primary free agent target this summer
The biggest mistake that Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers could make this summer would be squandering their $38 million in cap space on a player that doesn’t solve their desperate need to upgrade their three-point shooting.
Whether you’re just an everyday family or a billion dollar sports franchise, basic economics and common sense dictate that you allocate your primary resources to your area of greatest need. Doing otherwise would be foolish. That’s the challenge facing the Los Angeles Laker this summer. Do they spend their $38 million in hard earned cap space on a player like Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler who’ll do little to help solve their lack of three-point shooting?
Or do they instead ignore the lure of the big name and target the Charlotte Hornets’ free agent point guard Kemba Walker, who set a team record and ranked fourth in the entire NBA taking 731 and making 260 three-pointers? The Lakers need an elite three-point shooter who can do for their offense, what James Harden does for the Houston Rockets, Stephen Curry does for the Golden State Warriors, and Paul George does for the OKC Thunder.
Kemba Walker is the best option the Lakers have among the top free agents available this summer. His 731 takes and 260 makes are exactly the threat from deep that LeBron James needs to unleash his game. Of the other top names on the Lakers Big Board, only Klay Thompson or Kyrie Irving come close to matching Kemba’s impact while Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler just don’t take or make enough three-pointers to solve the Lakers’ problem.
The other player who jumps out as a perfect fit to help the Lakers three-point woes is Brook Lopez, who has redefined the value and power of a stretch five. The Lakers should make a serious push to sign Brook Lopez as their starting center this summer. Without Magic making the decisions, the Lakers could use the $6 million left over after giving Kemba a max contract to lure Brook Lopez to return to the purple and gold with a 3-year $18 million contract.
There is no question that the Lakers top priority this summer is finding elite 3-point shooters to provide LeBron James with the spacing he needs to excel. The Lakers’ offense struggled last season because teams did not respect their willingness to take threes or their ability to make them and were able to clog the paint. Adding prolific three-point shooters like Kemba Walker and Brook Lopez could jump the Lakers to be the league’s #2 three-point shooting team.
The blueprint the Lakers could follow is the same blueprint that the Bucks followed this season. Last season, the Bucks ranked in the bottom five in the league in three-point shooting with just 2,024 attempts and just 71 makes. Under new head coach Mike Budenholzer and with Brook Lopez as their new stretch five, the Bucks jumped to #2 behind the Houston Rockets with 3,134 attempted threes and 1,105 makes, an amazing offensive transformation.
The problem the Lakers face if they don’t land prolific three-point gunners this summer is they won’t be able to surround LeBron with enough shooters and the players they have coming back just aren’t going to solve the problem. The Lakers will not have the cap space to re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was their arguably their best three-point shooters. Even if Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, and Hart improve greatly, the Lakers won’t have enough firepower.
In fact, adding Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler and losing KCP could result in the Lakers having even less firepower from beyond the arc for next season. There aren’t many capable three-point shooters available for the league minimum, which is all the Lakers will have available to spend other than their $38 million in cap space. With the league setting new records for threes taken and made each of the last seven years, three-point shooters are in demand.
The Lakers need to stop chasing big names that don’t make sense. Instead, they need to finally join the modern age and embrace analytics and the understand that the three-point shooting revolution is not only here to stay but still growing by leaps and bounds. In the end, Magic basically ignored analytics and sought to build an old school championship team around LeBron, which failed terribly and resulted in his embarrassing resignation.
As much as the Lakers are enamored with Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler, signing either of them to max contracts this summer would be tantamount to squandering their main resource and option to solve their greatest problem, which is how to surround LeBron James with capable three-point shooters. The only available free agent superstars the Lakers should consider signing instead of Kemba Walker would be either Klay Thompson or Kyrie Irving.
Unless the Lakers know that Klay Thompson or Kyrie Irving have serious interest in joining the purple and gold, they’d be wise to go hard after Kemba Walker and Brook Lopez the minute that free agency starts this summer.