Why the Lakers win
The Lakers’ side of the equation is also a massive win. They add two floor spacers in Eric Gordon and Josh Richardson and two defensive aces in David Nwaba and Jakob Poeltl. The Lakers will play Anthony Davis at center in crunch time, but they won a championship playing Davis next to a traditional center for more than 20 minutes a night, and Poeltl is a massive upgrade on Dwight Howard and Javale McGee.
Poeltl is one of the best rim protectors in the league. His 5% block percentage was the sixth best in the NBA last season. Poeltl next to Anthony Davis would give the Lakers one of the stingiest defensive backbones to build off with Poeltl walling off the rim and Davis cleaning up from the weak side.
Poeltl makes his money on the defensive end, but he is an efficient rim runner with range out to 16 feet, and he pairs that with a top-five offensive rebounding rate. On his own, he makes the Lakers better, but he’s only one-fourth of the equation.
Gordon is the next biggest pull, and he is the perfect compliment to a LeBron James-led offense. He’s a capable secondary ball handler and an awesome floor spacer. While he’s unlikely to replicate last season’s 41.2% mark from 3-point range, he is a career 37.1% shooter from distance at volume.
Gordon is not the defender he once was, but he competes, and when surrounded by a strong supporting cast, he won’t be the weak link that kills an otherwise elite defense. As far as fit goes, Gordon is the anti-Westbrook, and a straight swap of the two would likely be an upgrade for the Lakers.
Josh Richardson and David Nwaba are both role players who are excellent veteran pieces to round out a roster. Richardson can hit threes, and Nwaba is a great defender. If they came in one package, they’d be one of the most coveted players on the market, but platooning the two could prove vital to a Lakers team that lost its defensive edge and scoring pop.
As an added bonus, the Lakers get to keep their 2029 first-round pick, and they don’t add any future salary beyond this season. Poeltl and Richardson are on expiring deals, the final year of Gordon’s deal is non-guaranteed, and Nwaba has a team option for 2023-24. The trade gives them a chance to compete this year while also leaving the summer of 2023 to re-imagine the roster around LeBron and Davis for the fourth time in four years.