Yes. The Lakers added what should be a defensive upgrade on the wing when Caldwell-Pope shook loose after the Detroit Pistons decided to go after Avery Bradley. They upgraded at center by moving Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Lopez, a premier interior scorer who rounded out his offensive resume by becoming a viable stretch five (34.6 percent shooting on 5.2 3-point attempts per game in Brooklyn last season) and a massive body who routinely ranks higher than you’d expect in SportVU’s defensive impact rim protection statistics. Those additions — plus, potentially, reserve minutes in the middle from incoming veteran Andrew Bogut, provided he’s really fully recovered from the left leg fracture that ended his stint with the Cavs after just one minute of floor time — could help improve a defense that has ranked as the NBA’s worst two years running. (Giving a crap about running back in transition sure would go a long way, too.)
While the Lakers had to attach former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell to Mozgov’s borderline unthinkable contract to get Brooklyn to bite, they were able to fill his spot in the backcourt rotation with another high-profile, high-ceiling playmaker. Ball, this June’s No. 2 pick, was seemingly destined to wear forum blue and gold, and looked awfully good doing it at Las Vegas Summer League.
And Lonzo, dogged by ankle injuries, hasn’t even been the most impressive Lakers rookie of the fall; that honor goes to Kuzma, the smooth 6-foot-9 forward whom L.A. took with the No. 27 pick they got from Brooklyn in the Russell-Mozgov-Lopez deal, and who has been such a revelation for the Lakers in Summer League and preseason that it’s no longer crazy to imagine him siphoning minutes from the likes of past first-round choices Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.
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