During the past offseason in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers were thought to be in prime position to sign Paul George alongside Lebron James. Of course, George decided to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers then had to settle for just Lebron *sigh* in free agency.
Everyone had the opinion that the Lakers would definitely pair James with another superstar. The Lakers were unable to do so, prompting them to sign a few one-year contracts with certain free agents. That included guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and of course the infamous Lance Stephenson.
Many people couldn’t take this team seriously with them lacking star power aside from James. The thing is, the Lakers were sitting at 20-14 at one point with their young core. Lebron then got hurt and everything went down the drain quickly. Since his injury, the Lakers are 4-7—fighting for a playoff spot as the number eight seed.
With the team struggling and Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson growing impatient, could we see the Lakers make a move soon? They could, but this offseason could also be the time to make a move for Los Angeles. Here are three players that the Lakers would rather have instead of Paul George.
3. Bradley Beal
Hear me out. I know Bradley Beal isn’t as good of a player as George is but he is an underrated shooting guard in the NBA. Beal could bring plenty of shooting to the Lakers, especially of the three-point variety. One of the few things that this Lakers squad definitely lacks is three-point shooting.
At this point of the season, the Lakers rank 28th in the NBA in three-point percentage (33.4%). Lakers take plenty of threes, ranking 15th in the NBA in three-point attempts (1,383). With guys like Lonzo Ball, Rondo, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram unable to hit threes at a consistent rate—Beal could be very useful.
Beal is shooting 35.7% from three-point range this season. Although that isn’t impressive, Beal shoots a ton from the outside. So far this year, he has shot 319 times (ninth most in the NBA). You also have to consider that Beal has been playing an extended period of time without John Wall this season.
On a Lebron-led team, surrounding him with capable three-point shooters has proven to be effective. With James’ ability to create for his teammates and draw defenders, Beal could easily see a ton of wide open threes. I believe the Lakers could look to add a guy like Beal to improve their shooting and get them one step closer to taking down the Golden State Warriors.
2. Anthony Davis
My number one and number two guys are interchangeable. I gave the upper-hand to the number one due to his NBA Finals experience. Now back to my second option.
Anthony Davis would be a perfect fit for what the Lakers need. Davis is a Swiss army knife playing either the Power Forward or Center positions. He can post-up, shoot from the mid-range, or even pull up from three. Davis is also athletic enough to run the floor and finish around the rim.
Through 44 games, Davis is averaging 29.4 points per game (third-best in NBA), 13.3 rebounds per game (fourth-most in NBA), and 2.6 blocks per game (second-most in NBA).
With teams saying they have a “death lineup”, the Lakers could create one with Davis at the five alongside Lebron. His ability to block shots and protect the rim are also good attributes he possesses.
Everyone knows that the Lakers—and everyone else in the Western Conference for that matter—are chasing the Warriors. With Davis in the lineup, it’d be tough for the Warriors to match up with the current New Orleans Pelicans big man. If the Lakers want Davis’ services, it would have to come in the way of a trade.
The good news for the Lakers is that they have plenty of young talent and pieces to make that type of a move. If the Lakers could land someone like Davis in the next year or so, the Western Conference could see it’s next dominant team.
1. Kawhi Leonard
Last but not least, we have the best option for the Lakers instead of Paul George. Kawhi Leonard—like George—was also a target for the Lakers this past offseason before he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. It’s unknown if he will remain with the Raptors this offseason, as he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The San Antonio Spurs and Leonard had a fallout while Leonard was nursing an injury. That caused their relationship to become irreparable before they split. The Spurs were able to land DeMar DeRozan in the deal though. It could be one of the first trades that I’ve seen that has worked out for both franchises involved.
In 45 games, Leonard averages 27.5 points per game (fifth-most in NBA), eight rebounds per game (35th in NBA), and 1.9 steals per game (seventh-most in NBA).
Leonard is back to being arguably the best two-way player in the NBA. Leonard has led the Raptors to a 33-12 record which is good enough for first in the Eastern Conference and the best record in the NBA.
Leonard looks as if he has something to prove this season. He might not be a fun guy—although he says he is—and his laugh is something made up of nightmares, he is one of the best players in the league still.
Adding a guy who can play both ways as dominant as Leonard can be beneficial for the Lakers. If the Lakers are able to lure Leonard this offseason, it could easily make them forget about missing out on George last offseason.