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The Los Angeles Lakers finished the 2020-21 regular season ranked 21st in the league in 3-point shooting, and it came back to bite the squad in the playoffs.
Los Angeles’ inability to consistently knock down open shots hurt L.A. in every game against the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, and that weakness has become impossible to ignore.
The Lakers need to add players who can hit jumpers when opportunities come their way, which is reportedly a priority for Los Angeles’ front office.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a career year from 3-point range as he shot over 41 percent, but he also disappeared in the early stages of that first-round series before a lower-leg injury deteriorated him further.
Los Angeles could scour the free-agent market when it opens on Aug. 2 to pick up help, but with their limited financial flexibility, the best options may be out of L.A.’s affordable price range.
L.A. could also look to make a trade for someone proven. The Lakers don’t have many palatable contracts to include in a trade for a better player, but they could have enough to get a deal done.
Here’s why the Lakers should do it, via Favale:
“The Lakers, meanwhile, need to glitter up their offense. Buddy Hield doesn’t provide a ton of self-creation, but he’s one of the best shooters alive. Since entering the league, he is one of just 17 players putting down more than 40 percent of their triples on at least 1,000 total attempts.
Footing the bill on his contract balance—three years, $62.5 million guaranteed—isn’t a mindless decision. But he is the perfect complement to an offense that seems married to playing two bigs, and his salary falls short of back-breaking when it’s on a declining scale.”
Hield’s 3-point percentages may have declined in each passing season, but his volume is difficult to overlook. This season, Hield attempted 10.2 3-pointers a game. For comparison’s sake, Kuzma attempts 11 field goals overall a game.
The two play different styles of basketball on teams that are vastly different from each other, but Hield immediately becomes Los Angeles’ best shooter from the perimeter.
It remains to be seen how the center rotation looks for Los Angeles next season — do they pair Anthony Davis with a center like Andre Drummond or play Davis at the 5? — which could be crucial in maximizing having a player like Hield on the court.
Hield has played for a Sacramento squad that likes to run in transition but can settle down and establish a half-court set, too. Hield’s playmaking abilities as a ball-handler is still in the works, but he’s had a plethora of instances as the primary ball-handler in Sacramento.
The Lakers need to add more quality win-now players to the roster alongside LeBron James and Davis, and Hield, 28, is just that. Removing Kuzma and Harrell, who both were no-shows in the playoffs, would be a win for L.A., though losing Kuzma’s versatility could be costly.
This potential move would also depend on Sacramento’s value of Kuzma and Harrell, as they could try to seek better value elsewhere. Hield has three years left on the four-year, $94 million extension he signed that started in 2020-21.