Breaking Down The Anthony Davis Trade
Breaking Down The Anthony Davis Trade
As all of you know, the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans completed a blockbuster trade that sent perennial all-star Anthony Davis to L.A., so with that being said, let’s really break down this trade.
1. LEBRON JAMES AND ANTHONY DAVIS WILL BE A PHENOMENAL DUO.
Let’s get one thing straight off the bat, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are going to absolutely dominate the NBA as a duo.
Yes LeBron underwent his first major injury last season and returned not really fully fit, but let’s not have amnesia here, James is still arguably the best player in the world. He’s had this off season to rest and recover his body, and come back just as good next season. Finishing with averages of 27,8 and 8 shooting over 50% from the field and 35% from downtown, you’ve now given him a unique and transcendent talent to work with who’s a walking 28 and 12 guy. If LeBron James can make Timofey Mozgov look good imagine what he’ll do with Davis.
For the doubters, no Anthony Davis will not be like Kevin Love. Davis will be arguably the best player LeBron has played with, and unlike Love when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, Davis’ game is inside-out not outside-in. A true presence in the paint and away from the basket, and most importantly, the biggest difference is Davis is Defensive Player of the Year type player on the defensive end. A true 7-footer with guard skills.
Don’t get it twisted, this duo is flat out frightening.
2. DAVIS AND LEBRON CANNOT, AND WILL NOT GET IT DONE BY THEMSELVES.
The front office has done a great job to finally get Davis to LA, however their biggest challenges may still be in front of them. Yes James and Davis are going to be amazing, but their supporting cast will determine how good they can actually be as a whole. For one they’ve lost a lot of depth, especially in the back court, so they’ll have to address these things before the start of the season. Davis and James are a fantastic foundation, but the “other guys” are just as important in the hopes of winning it all.
3. KEEPING KYLE KUZMA IS A MASSIVE WIN FOR THE LAKERS.
The Pelicans rejected a deal that involved Kyle Kuzma during last season’s trade deadline as well as other players, but in truth, Kuzma is the one the Lakers really wanted to keep, and rightly so. Not because Kuzma has a higher ceiling than Ingram or perhaps even Lonzo Ball, but because of his playing style and ability to fit in next to other talent.
Kuzma consistently showed he can play alongside James last season, as well as proving he can be a reliable second scoring option with an underrated offensive basketball IQ in his movement to play off the ball. It’s also important to note he’s a much better three point shooter than both Ball and Ingram as of right now, and spacing will be a key factor for the Lakers moving forward. A guy who doesn’t need to dribble the ball to be effective, that alone is huge for the Lakers.
Kuzma may be the least talented of the young trio, but he’s likely the best asset and fit to keep right now with what they’re trying to build.
4. THE LAKERS HAVE THE BEST FRONT COURT IN THE NBA.
I’ve touched on the Lakers lack of depth and talent in the back court, but with all the above being said, they absolutely have the best front court in the league. LeBron, AD and Kuzma is going to be as hard to handle as any front court trio we’ve seen in the league in recent memory. Hanging onto Kuzma made that happen.
5. JOSH HART IS AN UNDERRATED LOSS.
Josh Hart is largely a forgotten man for the Lakers. He was shut down due to injury shortly after the all-star break last campaign, but he is an underrated piece in this trade. For people that don’t watch the league often, Hart is a “glue” guy in the NBA. A tough nosed, hard working, gritty, defensive based “3&D” player in the association. A solid pro who doesn’t need the ball to make an impact.
With the superior talent part of the team taken care of, Hart could have been a valuable and versatile piece for the Lakers, similar to how a P.J. Tucker type player is crucial for the Houston Rockets. It’s obviously necessary to include him to bring in Davis, but an underrated loss for the Lakers in a squad that will need players with what he brings to the table.
6. PLAYERS ARE GOING TO FLOCK TO LOS ANGELES.
You know the drill now, the domino effect of talent playing together is going to entice players looking for a new home. The prospect of teaming up with Davis and LeBron even as a role player is something that’s very difficult to turn down, if you’re keen on winning and going deep into the playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony’s name has been mentioned coming off the bench, as is Rajon Rondo due to their lack of back court players. Rondo and Davis already have shared a locker and have good chemistry which could bring the savvy veteran back in purple and gold after a successful co partnership with James. They’re just two names of a long list that will be putting their hand up to join the Lakers.
7. THE PICKS ARE NICE, BUT LARGELY MEAN NOT MUCH.
I’m seeing a lot of people saying the addition of the three future first round draft picks is too much, but in reality, you have to think about what those draft picks will be/turn into.
The fourth pick in any draft will hurt, but the other two don’t make as much noise. For one, one of the other two is protected, which means the Pelicans may not even see it, and the last draft pick is likely to be later in the draft as the Lakers are more than likely going to be really really good. The picks are nice and all, but their true importance is already being displayed by the Pelicans, who are already shopping all three picks in the hopes of bringing in a productive veteran. Ask Boston, picks don’t win you games, they shouldn’t be the main focus of this deal.
8. ANTHONY DAVIS WILL SIGN LONG TERM.
I know a lot of people are viewing Davis as a rental, but with what has transpired and what has been stated recently by himself and his agent Rich Paul, this is absolutely a long term thing with the Lakers.
The Celtics refused to add Tatum and said goodbye to Kyrie Irving, and it looks like the New York Knicks are going to luck out on the premium talent in this free agency class yet again. Those were the other two destinations being talked about, and only the Knicks were the other team besides the Lakers that Davis expressed signing long term with. Lakers’ fans may be frustrated at saying goodbye to some of their young core, but you’ve just acquired a guy who’s only 26 as well. If all else fails you have a transcendent big man on your roster for the foreseeable future.
9. SHOOTERS, SHOOTERS, SHOOTERS.
The Lakers now have two guys who demand as much attention as anyone in the league on the same team. With James being an expert at collapsing the defense and finding the open man, and Davis being basically unguardable one on one, the Lakers are going to need guys locked and loaded beyond the perimeter to knock down shots. James has a long history of flourishing alongside shooters with his ability to get into the paint and find teammates on time and on target to let it fly, and a lack of three point shooting is something Davis had to deal on a yearly basis in New Orleans.
With the superior talent taken care of it’s up to the Lakers to surround their two stars with guys ready to knock down big shots. They can’t make the same mistake with this roster as they did last season in that respect.
As I touched on earlier, LeBron James had the first major injury of his career last campaign, and with Davis’ unfavorable history with health begs the question of how big of a factor it will play for the Lakers. After witnessing health play a major role is nearly all the recent NBA Finals, it’s a valid question to raise.
Lakers fans may have an issue with Davis’ health history, but do keep in mind Ball, Ingram and Hart also have had their struggles to stay on the court, and perhaps even worse off given their younger age. At the end of the day, James is a unique freak of nature athletically. He’s had one long term injury in 16 seasons, and with the Warriors players breaking down after 5 NBA Finals trips, LeBron went to 8 straight with a much bigger individual burden before going down with a less serious injury. That in itself should given Lakers’ fans comfort.
As for Davis, his long line of injuries can be mostly down to the load he had to carry in New Orleans. Missing the playoffs and playing sparingly in the second half of the season means he’ll be as fresh as he’s ever coming into the upcoming campaign.
All in all the addition of Davis decreases the overall workload on both players, and the coaching staff can manage their playing time and minutes in order to keep them both healthy for the most important time of the season.
11. WHO ELSE COMES?
James and Davis is plenty, but the Lakers are not done, with free agency around the corner. Davis cost them a small fortune, but there is still plenty of FREE talent who are up for grabs in just a matter of days.
After Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson went down with injuries ruling them out for next season, the dream is Kawhi Leonard to sign, however that remains unlikely after lifting the NBA title. The more plausible prospects are Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler. With the lack of scoring back court depth Walker or Irving make the most sense and have the best fit, however if the Lakers were able to grab Butler instead, they’d be able to boast a truly scary wing pairing alongside James. Any one of them makes the Lakers even better moving forward, but only time will tell if they capture one of them. All in all the focus should be to acquire at least one of those guys to bolster their hopes of winning it all.
An interesting side note is DeMarcus Cousins is also available. He likely won’t be back with the Warriors if they extend Thompson and Durant with max type money which is being reported, and he’s also played with Davis and Rondo in New Orleans. It would likely involve him taking a lot less than a max contract he’s looking for, but the likelihood of him even being presented with one is hard to imagine at this stage.
***NOTE: Anthony Davis can waive his trade kicker of $4 Million. If he doesn’t the Lakers will have around $28 million to acquire another big time free agent, if he does they’ll have roughly $32 million to do so.
— PELICANS —
1. THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT.
What the Pelicans didn’t have at the trade deadline was the number one overall pick, and with Zion Williamson coming to New Orleans, the future is very bright for this franchise.
David Griffin did an excellent in getting as much for Davis as the market offered, given Davis stating he wouldn’t sign long term anywhere else besides New York and LA. Griffin maximized what he could get for his star, and the franchise will be better for it in the future. The draft pick are of course nice, but now you already have a foundation of young talent you can build on moving forward, a complete rebuild was avoided in the process. A projected starting lineup of Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and/or Julius Randle or Jahlil Okafor is superb to work with.
A successful season could mean a sneaky playoff berth if all goes to plan depending on the landscape of the Western Conference and the ability of Zion straight away.
2. BEST DEFENSIVE BACK COURT IN THE LEAGUE?
Without a lot of people realizing, the Pelicans could realistically boast the best defensive back court in the association next season.
We are already fully aware of Holiday’s excellence on the defensive end (no matter how underrated it still is), but Ball has also proved himself as a brilliant defender when healthy during his short playing days as well. It was not an accident that the overall defensive rating of the Lakers plummeted after Ball got injured last campaign, and with him not returning after January, their defense never recovered and their first line of defense was never the same. Already a big and long point guard, Ball’s defensive prowess has been a shock for many people coming out of college. If he didn’t get injured multiple times last season he was on track for all NBA defensive honors come season’s end.
A another nice thing for Pelicans’ fans to be excited about.
3. BRANDON INGRAM WILL LIKELY BE AN ALL-STAR ONE DAY.
A lot of Lakers’ fans had given up on Ingram last season, and rightly so, however after the all-star break he really came into his own and started to show what he will eventually be consistently capable of.
He averaged nearly 29 points per game after the February, and his unique body type makes him an invaluable piece on today’s modern NBA. He has the tools to be an incredible defender, as well as score the ball with his length and ability to shoot over anyone. Ingram will reportedly fully recover from his blood clots, and the sky is truly the limit for him. If he develops the way he should he could turn into a unique “swiss army knife” type talent in this league.
4. LONZO BALL CAN DEVELOP AWAY FROM THE SPOTLIGHT.
Much like Ingram, Lonzo Ball is another player with his best years ahead of him.
The Los Angeles spot light isn’t catered for everyone, and with Ball’s unique but unorthodox skill set, his ability to develop without the constant media attention is something he can look forward to. Much like Ingram, they now find themselves in an environment in which they can make mistakes, which can fast track their development and ability to help a franchise win games.
Both players were necessary to get rid of right now for the Lakers, but in the future the Pelicans will really benefit from their talents. Ball still has his doubters, but his elite defense, rebounding and playmaking is undeniable to anyone who watches the NBA consistently and closely. The rest of his game can now shape up in a pressure-less environment.
5. THE PELICANS TRADED FOR THE FUTURE.
A lot of people want instant results, but the truth is the Pelicans have a more long term plan than the Lakers. The reasons are obvious, but this factor is still important to note.
We don’t know yet how good Zion will be in the league, but what we do know is if this group stick together, their primes will all coincide which is what the Pelicans are aiming for. In 3-5 years time, if everything goes to plan, you’ll likely have a team competing for multiple championships in a row given the talent that’s now on the roster. In today’s NBA there is of course a lot of “ifs” in that, but what you can do is lay the foundation for hopefully the ultimate results one day.
6. THE PELICANS MAY NOT BE DONE YET EITHER.
David Griffin stated many times he’s not interested in a full rebuild, which is why the Pelicans have been shopping their new found picks they just acquired.
They could draft a really nice young talent with the fourth overall pick, but the Pels aren’t against using it to upgrade their roster either. This of course would fast track their long term plan I mentioned in the point above, with the focus then shifting on trying to make the post season. It’s hard to see them making any sort of significant noise if they got there, but getting there is a learning experience in itself for this young team.
If they aren’t happy with the market they’ll likely fill a hole in their roster with another good young prospect. It was likely the fourth pick would be used to select Darius Garland, however with the Pelicans acquiring Ball, their attention may turn elsewhere.
7. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH JULIUS RANDLE?
Another interesting side not with the Pelicans is the situation with Julius Randle. He comprehensively outplayed the contract he was on last season and will searching the market for a better personal deal.
With the Pelicans landing the number one pick and almost certainly selecting Zion Williamson, Randle’s future with the franchise is in jeopardy. Zion already has a similar body type and playing style to Randle, and with Zion being seen as the greater and more talented prospect along with both playing having to potentially share minutes, Randle could now be seen as dispensable for the franchise.
It’s hard to imagine the Pelicans giving Randle the money he’s looking for, however if he stayed a lineup of Ball, Holiday, Ingram, Zion and Randle is already better than most in the league.
As an unrestricted free agent the Pelicans can’t match anything he will be offered, and he’s expressed his desire to join the Phoenix Suns already. All signs point to losing him after averaging 21 points per game last season for the franchise.
All in all due their two different plans it’s hard and almost impossible to determine who “won” this trade. The team that gets the superstar usually looks better initially, however the Pelicans’ long term results could be just as impressive.
It’s quite possible and very likely both teams won this trade, which is what I believe.
The Lakers acquired a true second star alongside LeBron James in the hopes of winning it all during his time there, and still kept Kyle Kuzma as well as enough money to bring in a third star and options to fill out the rest of the roster. And as for the Pelicans, in the space of 24 hours they now have one of, if not the most exciting young cores in the entire league moving forward for many years to come.
No doubt both teams should be happy.