Less “Big Ballers”, More Rings in LA

It seems so long ago that the Anthony Davis to LA trade drama began when back at the trade deadline in February, Anthony Davis demanded a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans with the Lakers in mind. Davis and his agent Rich Paul drew scrutiny for attempting to force an LA trade, which then led to Pelicans GM Dell Demps leaking LA’s trade offers. This was later revealed as an overall attempt by Dell Demps to sabotage the Lakers chemistry, with previous lakers GM Magic Johnson stating he believed “Dell Demps didn’t negotiate in good faith”. Well, the sabotage worked as Los Angeles imploded and missed the playoffs with LeBron James, a historic blunder. Now, roughly four months later the saga has come to end.

It was reported today on Saturday, June 15th, that the Los Angeles Lakers traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three future first round picks (including number four overall in the 2019 NBA draft) for superstar Anthony Davis. The resounding reaction from Lakers nation is one of extensive scrutiny and criticism. However, as a Lakers fan myself, I see this trade as a huge win for both sides. Ultimately, it comes down to a few key reasons to now be discussed.

  1. The value of LA’s future first rounders

At first glance, trading three first round picks seems like an extremely hefty price to pay via trade. However, with two of the top five greatest players in the NBA and arguably the two best at their positions in the league right now, Los Angeles should have plenty regular season wins to come. Furthermore, due to this fact, Los Angeles’ first round picks in the future should be at the end of the round, meaning their picks won’t hold much value, acting more as second round picks. Because of this, the Lakers shouldn’t sweat the future first round picks leaving so much.

2. The Lakers retaining Kyle Kuzma

Furthermore, out of all the Lakers young pieces, Kuzma, Ingram, and Ball are without a doubt the most promising and proven. The fact that Los Angeles was able to hold onto even just one of those three young stars and get Anthony Davis is a win in my mind. It ensures that the Lakers still have a young star to groom and see develop long after the retirement of LeBron James. Furthermore, Kuzma just might have been the best fit on this Lakers team out of the three. Ultimately, that comes down to one key reason: Kuzma’s off ball play style. Brandon Ingram is without a doubt the brightest young prospect on the Lakers, however, his ball dominant, isolation scoring play style never fit well alongside LeBron James. However, Kyle Kuzma has shown flashes of promises as an off ball scorer as well as catch and shoot post up scorer. Lonzo Ball also would have fit beautifully on the roster, but dumping Lonzo’s contract will end up being extremely invaluable to the Lakers.

3. Dumping of Ingram and Lonzo’s number two pick contracts

Also, I understand why many Lakers fans are disgruntled about the disposal of the team’s two brightest young stars. On the contrary, I also believe it might have been a more strategic move than most realize. With the Los Angeles Lakers dumping the contracts of two former number two picks, the team now has enough to sign a max free agent to add alongside LeBron and AD. Previously, the Lakers would not have had enough cap space if they had kept Ingram or Lonzo. Yes, both players have much higher upside than Kuzma, but Kuzma is a promising young piece staying in LA while shedding Lonzo and Ingram’s contracts now allows for a big three super-team in LA.

4. An early commitment from Anthony Davis

Lastly, this trade worked out nice for the Lakers as Anthony Davis immediately after the trade stated he will sign with the Lakers when he hits free agency next off-season in 2020. For a guy who stated he will refuse to sign long term with any other team, to get a long term commitment from a 26 year old superstar is a monumental win. People want to talk about the Lakers giving up the future for Anthony Davis, but he is the future at just 26 years old. Now, he’s stated a long term commitment to the Lakers, LA fans everywhere can rejoice.

The Impact

With the Los Angeles Lakers now having perhaps the best player duo since Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers look to dominate the Western Conference for years to come. Anthony Davis has had two season of 28+ points per game, three seasons of 2.5+ blocks, and has never failed to post double digit rebounds in a season since being a rookie. With a dominant scoring big man who every year is in defensive player of the year contention alongside a player in a two man GOAT discussion, the Lakers have a duo that should terrify teams for years to come. Furthermore, the Lakers have an amazing complimentary young piece in Kyle Kuzma to provide a scoring boost as well as the prospect of Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, or Klay Thompson. This sudden explosion of talent onto the Los Angeles roster alongside the recent catastrophic injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant provides an opening for the Lakers to take the reigns in the Western Conference. NBA, watch out… the Lake show is coming.