The Los Angeles Lakers continue to try to find their footing this season as they sit at 10-10. Injuries have played a large role in the early struggles but so has lack of defense. The team had a 106.8 defensive rating last season, which was best in the NBA. This season, the defensive rating is 19th in the league at 108.5.
Even as the team gets healthier, it’s hard to find a solution to the defensive woes on the roster right now. An elite defensive stopper isn’t going to fall on the Lakers’ lap in free agency so their best bet is to scour the trade market. Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report proposed a trade for an interesting name who isn’t talked about and it wouldn’t cost much to make the deal happen. Swartz proposes that the Lakers trade two second-round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for veteran forward Kenrich Williams:
Williams would be the perfect trade target for Los Angeles. The 6’6″, 210-pound forward can defend multiple positions and knock down open shots. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Thunder allow 8.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with Williams on the floor, which ranks in the 84th percentile.
While he’s made just 12 of 38 three-pointers this season, Williams nailed 44.4 percent of his 117 attempts a year ago, so he has floor-spacing ability. At age 26, he’d bring fresh legs to the Lakers and would be one of the team’s best defenders.
With the Thunder still collecting draft picks, the Lakers could pass along two second-rounders and absorb Williams’ $2 million contract into the Marc Gasol trade exception.
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Williams Makes a Lot of Sense for Lakers
The biggest issue facing the Lakers is their defense. The offense has been decent as they averaged the eighth-most points per game this season (110.1), and they have the offensive personnel to keep getting better. However, there doesn’t appear to be great defensive personnel on the roster. They should get a boost when Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza return from injury but neither will change the face of the defense.
Williams isn’t much of a scorer as he only averages 6.3 points a game over his career. He’s not an elite defender but he’s good enough to make an impact. If all the Lakers have to do is give up a couple of second-round picks to land him, they should strongly consider making the trade.
Lakers Can’t Hope to Land Big Name
As the season goes on and the trade deadline gets nearer, there will no doubt be some notable names linked to the Lakers. Kevin Love is one name that will likely be mentioned a lot as he is a buyout candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Love has expressed little interest in accepting a buyout so it’s possible he never sees free agency.
A trade for a player like Ben Simmons is also out of the question unless the Philadelphia 76ers really want Russell Westbrook. For the most part, the Lakers’ roster is what it is and they need to figure out how to better utilize the pieces that they have. Getting healthier will provide a boost.