LeBron James became a four-time NBA champion with the LA Lakers last season. However, it looks like it could be more difficult for him to win his fifth ring this season. The Lakers have played well but have been without superstar big man Anthony Davis. They have also had a super team in the Eastern Conference to worry about in the Brooklyn Nets. While there is not much they can do about the Nets and their roster, the Lakers are reportedly interested in a move that wouldn’t just keep them afloat while Davis is injured but it would also help them keep pace with Brooklyn.
Anthony Davis has been out for the LA Lakers
LeBron James and the LA Lakers are 27-13 and third in the Western Conference. However, they have struggled since seeing Anthony Davis go down with injury last month.
Including the last game Davis played in on Feb. 14 as he only appeared in a little over 14 minutes, LA went 1-5 in their first six games without him. The Lakers have played better since then, though, as they went 2-2 before the All-Star break and have won each of their first three games since the break. But they still miss Davis desperately.
He is not only their second-leading scorer with 22.5 points per game, but he is also their leading rebounder with 8.4 boards per game. Davis also has an imposing presence defensively as he leads the team in blocks with 1.8 and steals with 1.3. That’s a lot to be missing heading into the final stretch of the season.
Because of this, the Lakers have been connected to a former top-notch big man who is still a force on the boards and in the paint. That big man is Hassan Whiteside.
The Lakers have been connected to Hassan Whiteside
With Anthony Davis missing games and Marc Gasol not quite playing at the level the Lakers hoped he would when they signed him, LA is in the market for a big man. One name they have repeatedly been linked to is Andre Drummond.
However, if the Lakers can’t get Drummond, they could reportedly go after Hassan Whiteside.
“The Los Angeles Lakers are monitoring the developments of the Sacramento Kings’ seldom-used rim protector, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote. “If the defending champs strike out on landing Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, then Whiteside would be a nice contingency plan.”
Hassan Whiteside was arguably one of the best big men in the NBA just a few years ago. In 2016-17 with the Miami Heat, he averaged 17 points per game, 2.1 blocks, and he led the NBA in rebounds per game with 14.1. This season, though, the Sacramento Kings have barely played him. He is averaging 8.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds in 14.6 minutes.
This, however, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a lot left in the tank as he just averaged 15.5 points per game and 13.5 rebounds for the Portland Trail Blazers last season. He also led the NBA in blocks per game with 2.9.
Whiteside could be an excellent pickup for the Lakers if this were to happen. However, the big question is whether he can actually help them win another championship or not.
Can Hassan Whiteside help LeBron James become a five-time NBA champion?
Obviously, Hassan Whiteside won’t move the needle too much, but he could still be a significant addition for LA and can help them win a title.
Without Anthony Davis, LeBron James and the Lakers are missing their top rebounder and top shot-blocker. Whiteside just averaged 13.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks last season. He can give them those two things they have desperately been missing while Davis has been down.
Once Davis returns, though, Whiteside could then become what Dwight Howard was to them last season, but potentially better. Howard only played in 18.9 minutes per game in 2019-20 for LA, but he made the most of his minutes. He pulled down 7.3 rebounds per game and blocked 1.1 shots to go with 7.5 points per game. Although Marc Gasol is averaging 1.3 blocks, he is only recording 4.1 rebounds and 4.8 points. Whiteside should be able to rack up similar numbers to Howard, or even better since he is a little over three years younger.
Hopefully, James has his big man Anthony Davis back soon. If Davis can stay healthy and get into a rhythm before the playoffs, and if the Lakers can add someone like Hassan Whiteside or Andre Drummond, they have as good of a chance as any to beat the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Finals and help LeBron James become a five-time NBA champion.
They really need an imposing presence down low, though, to have a chance.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference