I love the idea of trading down to a team even more desperate and dysfunctional than the Lakers. Having watched Ball all season, he’s not a great defender.
If you look at the evolution of basketball players, it’s way more likely for a good defender to become a passable to good shooter (Bruce Bowen, Kwahi Leonard, Patrick Beverly) than the other way around. Defense takes effort, desire and fighting spirit.
Maybe they could get rid of Mozgov, like you said, and pick up Fox, Ntilinka, or maybe Josh Hart.
I was also impressed by Oregon’s Jordan Bell this year, who looks like he can guard 2–5.
If the Lakers can get a top FA like Paul George, Bell would be a great small ball five to go along with Nance and Ingram in the front court.
The hardest part is figuring out which young player could become a key piece on a contender: Russell or Randle. They don’t seem to do much when they play together, as they are both ball dominant guys who lead a break, penetrate and find an open shooter. I don’t think the Lakers can succeed with two horrible defenders as starters. Would it be easier to hide Russell on defense because of his outside shooting? Or is Randle’s rebounding a less replaceable skill?
I’ve been going back and forth one them the entire season, but right now I’m leaning toward keeping Russell if they get an elite defender to run the point.