As far as trades go, the Lakers went for it by acquiring Russell Westbrook a few days before free agency began. Is Westbrook the missing piece to get the Lakers back to the Western Conference Finals? Let’s see the future NBA odds.
Lakers Point Guard Issues
Heading into free agency, we knew the Lakers had point guard issues. They were rumored to be in the sign and trade market, but ultimately, they gave up some assets to take on Westbrook’s contract, a somewhat puzzling move. However, the alternative may have been even worse. Dennis Schroder and Alex Caruso are/were both free agents and the Lakers don’t have much room for signings other than veteran minimums and the midlevel exception.
They already got Dwight Howard to return to the Lakers but in no way did they have the ability to bring in a point guard of Westbrook’s stature on the free agency market. So, taking on Westbrook’s enormous contract was a necessity for this team. They are trying to win very similarly to how the Miami Heat were able to win with James. Find good young talent in the draft, sign veterans at a discount and rely on your top three stars.
What Westbrook Brings to the Lakers
The biggest thing Westbrook brings to the Lakers is another ball handler who can get his own shot whenever he wants. That is going to be crucial to get through what is now a full 82-game regular season and if you’re the Lakers, hopefully a long playoff run. Westbrook is going to take so much pressure off LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
James no longer has to be the main ball handler and Davis can now work the two man game with either James or Westbrook, making the Lakers much more difficult to guard. Westbrook once again led the league in assists last season and has led the league in assist percentage in four of the last five years. He is probably going to do it again in 2021-22 playing next to James and Davis. Take it into consideration for your NBA picks.
What Westbrook Takes Away
While Westbrook shot 31.5% from three-point land last season, above his career average, he is a VERY streaky shooter from beyond the arc. Comparatively to the Lakers point guards recently, or the ones on the market, Westbrook is a poor shooter from deep. Spacing is the main thing that he takes away, but I’m not sure it will matter a ton if the Lakers commit to playing Davis at center for most of their games. They also need some more shooters in free agency.
The next thing Westbrook has taken away and it’s not even his fault is the Lakers’ depth. They had to trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, their best three-point shooter, along with Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma for one guy. All three of those players were important to the Lakers’ depth and now they have been replaced with veterans like Howard, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington and Kent Bazemore. That would be great to know next you check you best bets.
If Los Angeles lands Buddy Hield or somehow convinces DeMar DeRozan to take a huge pay cut to come home to play for the Lakers, I’ll shut my mouth. For now, the Lakers have downgraded a lot outside of their top three players. This may be the biggest thing Westbrook takes away. Finally, the last thing Westbrook takes away is assists from James and rebounds from both James and Davis. I can’t wait to see the prop odds for these guys early in the season because they will hopefully be great fades before the markets correct for the monster that Westbrook is for all counting stats.
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.