If the Los Angeles Lakers played a game tomorrow, Alfonzo McKinnie would have to play all 48 minutes. They have only five players on the roster. McKinnie is one of them. Three are holdovers from last season: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol. And then there's the controversial new addition, Russell Westbrook.
You've heard all of the critiques by now. He can't shoot 3's. He's an inconsistent defender. His shot selection is horrific. He's getting older and he's incredibly expensive. His high-usage playing style is redundant on a team with James and Davis. They're all valid to an extent, and to varying degrees, they're going to hinder the Lakers on their quest for an 18th championship. But as blanket criticisms of the 2021-22 Lakers, they are as incomplete as the roster itself. Westbrook's fit with James and Davis carries very obvious questions, but how can we judge his overall fit on a team that hasn't even been built yet?
McKinnie isn't going to play 48 minutes alongside Westbrook next season. When it counts, he won't play any. One-third of this roster is in place and two-thirds of it are not. So before we pass judgment on Westbrook, himself, we need to figure out who he's going to play with and how much they are going to cover or exacerbate those very real flaws of his. The 2021 NBA Draft is officially in the books, so now, let's dive into what could come next in free agency.
Salvaging the Hield trade.
Let's go over a brief timeline of Westbrook's acquisition:
At 11:30 p.m on Wednesday night, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports that the Lakers have "stepped up their efforts" to land Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield. The deal had been rumored for weeks and would have likely been built around Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 overall pick. Hield is a career 40.6 percent 3-point shooter, exactly the sort of supplementary spacer the Lakers needed with or without Westbrook.