The biggest move in the NBA recently was the Russell Westbrook trade that sent him to the Lakers with the 2024 second-round pick and the 2028 second-round pick in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP), Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell, the 22nd overall pick in the draft for this year.
This was a big trade that put the Lakers back on the map as a championship contender for next season, but did they give up too much?
Let’s take a deep dive into the players that the Lakers sent away to the Wizards in this trade.
First, KCP averaged about 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in the 28 minutes he played on average last season. This doesn’t seem so great, but he was extremely efficient by shooting 41% from three and 43% from the floor. He was a streaky shooter but was a key part to their championship run in the bubble in 2019.
Next, Kyle Kuzma was probably their biggest loss from the trade. He is only 26 and is getting better each year with his growing confidence. He averaged 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in 29 minutes last game. It was hard for Kuzma to find his role on this Lakers team, but I expect him to play very well on the Wizards, a team that he will be able to play more freely on.
Lastly, Montrezl Harrell, who plays big for his 6’ 7” frame, is only 27 and averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds on 62% shooting. I still can’t understand what Frank Vogel was doing in the playoffs this past year, only playing Harrell 10 minutes per game compared to his usual 23 during the regular season.
What Westbrook Brings to the Table
Westbrook averaged a triple-double again last season with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. He shot 44% from the field but only 32% from three. His shooting ability has always been the questionable part of his game that he has struggled to figure out as his best 3 point shooting year came in 2016-2017 when he shot 34% where he was awarded the MVP that year.
His explosiveness to the basket and hard work on the court make up for other parts of his game that are not as strong. He always as the possibility of going off for a triple-double which is what the Lakers team needs: more playmakers.
The Problem With the Current Lakers
The main issue I see is that the Lakers have a lot of playmakers in Lebron, Anthony Davis and now Russell Westbrook but a lack of shooters. The Lakers did a good job of filling in the pieces adding Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard to the squad, but none of them are great 3 point shooters.
Melo and Monk are their best options of the bunch, but Melo is 37, and there is no telling what he has left in the tank. Monk, being only 23, is getting better each year, but there is a great amount of pressure on Lebron to win another championship which means a lot of pressure on Monk’s young shoulders.
Westbrook Trade | Conclusion
This was the right move for the Lakers as they were not a championship team with their squad from last year. How will Westbrook fare being teammates with Lebron with both players wanting the ball in their hands during crunch time? Westbrook had issues with this playing with both Kevin Durant and James Harden. Let’s see if it’s a different story with Lebron.