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The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to an extremely slow start to the season with a 10-11 record.
Los Angeles came into the year with championship aspirations after acquiring Russell Westbrook and filling in the gaps with veteran players, but the collective experience hasn’t yielded much fruit yet.
One roster shortcoming is the wing position. Besides LeBron James, only Trevor Ariza and Kent Bazemore firmly slot into this position. However, Ariza hasn’t played this season because of an injury, and Bazemore played so poorly that he has already fallen out of the rotation. The Lakers want Talen Horton-Tucker to be that guy, but that will take time.
After posting the NBA’s best defense a year ago (106.8 rating), the Lakers have slumped to 19th this season (108.5 rating).
No matter how much work LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis put in to make the offense run smoothly, the unit lacks athletic wing defenders who can get stops, especially after L.A. traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the offseason.
Williams would be the perfect trade target for Los Angeles. The 6’6″, 210-pound forward can defend multiple positions and knock down open shots. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Thunder allow 8.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with Williams on the floor, which ranks in the 84th percentile.
While he’s made just 12 of 38 three-pointers this season, Williams nailed 44.4 percent of his 117 attempts a year ago, so he has floor-spacing ability. At age 26, he’d bring fresh legs to the Lakers and would be one of the team’s best defenders.
With the Thunder still collecting draft picks, the Lakers could pass along two second-rounders and absorb Williams’ $2 million contract into the Marc Gasol trade exception.
Williams, who turns 27 soon, is solid value for two future second-round picks that may not even help the Lakers by the time those picks come around.
If the Lakers pull the trigger for this type of move, it would first have to follow pursuing more proven win-now players such as Jerami Grant. Williams can help in some areas the Lakers have struggled in, but L.A. must be sure he is the needle mover it needs to have a stronger chance at winning the title this year.