The Los Angeles Lakers courted controversy when they traded D’Angelo Russell over the summer in order to convince the Brooklyn Nets to take on Timofey Mozgov’s contract as well. Lost in all of the hoopla over that at times was that the team got back a pretty good player in return in the form of Brook Lopez and the remaining one year on his contract.
Lopez’s contract expiring and the Lakers 2018 free agency dreams are likely the main appeal of acquiring him, but he’ll still be the best player on the Lakers’ roster this season, a fact that was confirmed when he placed just outside the top-50 in ESPN’s #NBARank, coming in at No. 51 on the four-letter network’s highly-subjective rankings.
The Russell trade doesn’t need to be re-litigated, but Lopez’s talent is undeniable. He’s instantly the best player the Lakers have had on their roster since Kobe Bryant, and his combination of size, soft touch and improved 3-point stroke will make him a huge asset to the purple and gold as they pursue respectability this season.
Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room made a video highlight what Lopez will and won’t bring to the Lakers, and it’s worth a watch to show how he can and can’t help:
Lopez won’t fix all of the issues that have led the Lakers to struggle so mightily over the last few years, but he’ll help their offense a lot. His ability to space the floor will not only give Lonzo Ball a target from range, but will also unblock the paint for a Lakers’ offense that has looked like a clogged toilet with several shooting-challenged big men over the past several seasons.
Between Lopez’s reliability as a shooter and post-up presence in the halfcourt and Lonzo’s ability to goose the Lakers’ transition attack, the team projects to look far more competent offensively this year. Because they both rank outside the top-50, it seems likely that the fun won’t result in a playoff run, but at least the Lakers will look good on their way to the lottery (in which they don’t even own their pick) this season.