Why the Lakers Should Trade for CJ McCollum

cj mccollum lakers trade
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Since the arrival of LeBron James in 2018, Lakers fans have developed a serious hunger for star players. Truthfully, can you blame them? With the acquisition of Anthony Davis, the Lakers quickly transitioned from a shit show back to “Showtime” and won their 17th championship. Now, Laker Nation finds themselves questioning if Davis is reliable enough after sustaining multiple injuries throughout the 2020-21 season. I’m here to tell you, not only is he reliable enough, but the team as a whole is still capable of reigning over the league without a top-tier star. It’s time to wake up from these Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard fantasies, and discuss a realistic transaction the Lakers could make to improve immediately.

Trade for CJ McCollum

After a subpar playoff performance, the idea of trading for CJ McCollum has been greeted with more scoffs than intrigue. One thing about today’s fans: recency bias hugs them tighter than spandex. Though it may be difficult to block your most recent memory of him, CJ isn’t this unreliable figure who tweets better than he hoops. In fact, he’s durable, efficient, and one of the best sidekicks in the league.

Offensive Impact:

The Lakers are in need of a reliable scorer who can create his own shot. Not only is CJ dangerous in isolation, he continues to progress in catch-and-shoot situations. He's been hitting above 46% of those 3PT attempts over the past two seasons. That’ll benefit an aging LeBron who prefers to distribute the ball. While on the subject of shooting, CJ has noticeably evolved with the game, going from heavily attacking the basket to taking the majority of his attempts from 20-feet and beyond. Meaning, he won’t jeopardize court spacing, which was a key issue in their first-round exit against the Suns. The Lakers also struggled from deep this season, as they finished 21st in 3PT%. In other words, inefficiency from their “shooters” caused problems. Luckily, CJ’s a 39.8% career shooter from deep. You couldn’t find a match this perfect on Tinder!

Defensive Impact:

This would be the one red flag worthy enough to steer clear, but keep in mind, Lakers ranked first in team defensive rating this season. Meanwhile, the Blazers have been amongst the top 5 worst defending teams over the past 2 seasons. Clearly, their ineffectiveness on the defensive end can’t be pinned on one man. That being said, as long as he’s serviceable, the Lakers should maintain their identity if acquired.

The Playoffs:

This is for the “he’s unreliable in playoffs” crowd. CJ’s playoff stats aren’t drastically different from regular season, but what makes him reliable is his dominance in elimination games. According to NBA Advanced Stats, in his previous 5 elimination games, CJ averaged 33.4 points on the 50-40-90 threshold. Logically, how unreliable can one be if they actually show up when needed the most? When it’s win or go home, CJ makes it clear that he loves ball more than his podcasting.

Why would Portland trade him?

The way things are shaping in Portland, there’s no clear answer on what’s to come. Will Damian Lillard force himself out? It’s possible. Will Portland choose to rebuild? It’s likely if Dame’s traded. Realistically, the keys are in the hands of Portland’s front-office. If they fail to appease Dame, they could find themselves in a similar situation as the Houston Rockets. If they cash out for quality help like the Milwaukee Bucks, they too could find themselves competing for a Finals appearance.

In order to pull this trade off, the Lakers would have to be willing to part with Talen Horton-Tucker and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the very least. THT has made some noise around the league due to his potential. If forced to rebuild, the Blazers get ahead of the game by landing a young guard with playoff experience. KCP, one of the key contributors during LA’s 2020 championship run, would bring his quality defense to Portland’s backcourt. If unable to help Portland’s front-court with an Andre Drummond or Montrezl Harrell sign-and-trade, Kyle Kuzma and draft compensation will have to suffice. 

With Jusuf Nurkic already expressing his stance on Lillard’s possible departure and Norman Powell expected to opt-out of his player option, it’s safe to say Neil Olshey may need Chauncey Billups to suit up if he fails Lillard.

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