With next week’s NBA Draft fast approaching and the opening of free agency set to start two days after, rumors are starting to swirl in a marketplace that is seemingly about to become very active. Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston. Boston could be in the market for Jrue Holiday. The Magic are reportedly looking to potentially package Aaron Gordon with their No. 15 overall pick to move into the lottery this year. 

The latter two of these reports come from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who also mentioned in his NBA Draft guide — which you should absolutely take the time to read — that the Lakers have interest in trading for DeMar DeRozan in a deal that would send Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green to the Spurs. 

January 23, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) shoots against Boston Celtics forward Daniel Theis (27) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the Lakers, so it’s interesting, and DeRozan remains a big name who, in my opinion, has actually become underrated with all the analytical heat he’s taken over the years. He’s not a good defender. He can’t shoot threes. He got pummeled by LeBron for years in the Eastern Conference when he was out of his depth on a Raptors team that needed him to be a 1A superstar. 

But listen, the guy averaged 22 points, 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds on 53-percent shooting this past season. The only player who bested those numbers across the board was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won his second consecutive MVP. DeRozan is still a mid-range assassin — 47 percent from the mid range last season, which ranked in the 90th percentile — and he’s a really good passer, something Gregg Popovich repeatedly commented on as something he didn’t fully appreciate about DeRozan’s game before he came to San Antonio. 

Last season, DeRozan ranked in the 85th percentile in points per 100 shot attempts (121.4), and he assisted on 26 percent of San Antonio’s field goals, which put him in the 97th percentile, per CTG. In other words, DeRozan continues to create a lot of buckets, at a very efficient rate, whether he’s doing the scoring or generating it for someone else. 

July 30, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers in a Black Lives Matter Shirt kneel with their teammates during the national anthem prior to the game against the LA Clippers at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on July 30, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers can use that. Who knows if they re-sign Rajon Rondo as another playmaker next to LeBron. DeRozan can lead bench units when LeBron and/or Anthony Davis is off the floor and benefit greatly from the space those two create when playing alongside them. When DeRozan arrived in San Antonio, he immediately benefitted from playing with an elite stretch big in LaMarcus Aldridge, who gave him optimal space to work in his preferred areas. Davis would take that to another level. 

Davis is also the type of versatile, rim-protecting defender who can compensate for whatever deficiencies DeRozan brings on that end. The 3-point shooting is an issue; DeRozan has not even attempted one three per game in the last two seasons and in those campaigns he shot 15 and 25 percent from deep, respectively. The Lakers already struggle from three, and if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hadn’t gone relatively nuclear in the playoffs, it may have been an even bigger issue. 

But they’re not done adding to their roster, and besides that, they won the title in large part because Davis shot at Kevin Durant rates from the mid range. He probably won’t do that again, but the combination of him and DeRozan can create a similar effect in the playoffs, which still reward old-school, one-on-one mid-range jump shooting. 

We’ll see if this rumor comes to fruition. 

Courtesy: CBS Sports


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