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Is Victor Oladipo the Lakers’ Missing Piece?

The Los Angeles Lakers could potentially find their third star in Victor Oladipo this offseason. The Lakers are among the few teams to be viewed as a potential suitor for the former second overall pick back in 2013. 

Oladipo is a combo guard who is able to both score and facilitate with ease. Prior to his injury in 2019, Oladipo was Indiana’s number one option and coming into his own. However, that title now belongs to TJ Warren, after proving that he is a legit star during the bubble experience. 

Making the Move To Repeat

After winning the NBA Championship, the Lakers are going to have to revamp their roster if they have any hopes of repeating, especially with teams such as the Warriors and Nets who have their stars returning from injury. Compared to the teams that the Lakers faced in the playoffs, they were the lesser talented of the match ups. Surrounding their two superstars with specialists and hustle players. 

Los Angeles have the pieces to make a trade with the Indiana Pacers work. However, Oladipo is coming off a ruptured quad tendon in 2019 that sidelined him a majority of the 2019-2020 season. Of course there is speculation if he can come back to his old self, which makes this trade very enticing. 

Now if Oladipo did get traded, the Lakers are not expecting him to fill the same role as in Indiana. Instead he would be the one to take off the load for LeBron James once he goes to the bench. Oladipo’s play style is the missing piece the Lakers have been looking for.

What would the Lakers need to give up to pull this trade off? Well for starters a perfect trade package for Oladipo would be to give away Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, and a first round pick. 

Why This Makes Sense

This makes perfect sense for the Lakers for many reasons. First, the contracts match up which is the most important aspect of any trade. Just like Oladipo, Kuzma and Green will become free agents following the 2021 season. After seeing how those two paired up with LeBron, maybe a change could be beneficial for everyone.

Second, Oladipo would be an instant upgrade at the shooting guard position from Danny Green, who was inconsistent with his shooting all year long.  Prior to his injury, Oladipo was one of the best young guards in the NBA, shooting better than 53% from the field and over 37% from three in his last full season prior to injury. He is also a capable playmaker, as he averaged 5.6 assists per game two seasons ago for the Pacers. Oladipo is the perfect combo guard that the Lakers have been missing. The only other guard who was able to run a half court offense for the Lakers this season was Rajon Rondo. Though Oladipo doesn’t have the passing ability of Rajon, he doesn’t need to for the simple fact that defenders don’t know if he will look to score or pass. 

Third, that first round pick would do nothing for the Lakers in retrospect. They would be focused on winning championships instead of drafting young prospects. 

Oladipo Before Injuries

Since returning from injury, Oladipo averaged 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 27.8 minutes per game. During the bubble playoffs, his numbers went up to 17.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists in 31 minutes per game. However, in his last game of the season, Game Four vs Miami, he played a season high in 44 minutes. In those 44 minutes he put up 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Those are the numbers we expect of a healthy Oladipo.

If the Lakers are able to pull this trade off and receive a prime Oladipo in return, this big three would run the NBA. The Lakers would have two young stars in Oladipo and Davis who are only getting better and an ageless LeBron who continues to play at a high level. A potential short term dynasty can occur with this move.

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