Lakers Lead

Cousins Injury Leaves Lakers Looking for Answers

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On August 15th, 2019, DeMarcus Cousins suffered a reported torn ACL during a scrimmage.  This is a tough blow for both the man and his team, the Los Angeles Lakers.  Cousins had lost considerable weight, looking at this season as a chance for him to bounce back, get his career back on track, and rebuild his value.

Now, his future as a whole is murky.  Within the last 18 months, Cousins has suffered a torn Achilles, a tear in his quad and now a torn ACL.  Any of these injuries would be a lot to overcome by themselves.  All three in such rapid succession is devastating.

As the saying unfortunately goes, the show must go on.  In this case, the Lake Show will be scrambling for answers to fill a large hole.  Boogie looked to be an important contributor for a team with title aspirations.  So where do they go from here?

Veteran Options

If the Lakers want to look at veterans who have not headed overseas for the time being, Joakim Noah is a logical place to start.  The former All-Star returned to the league with the Grizzlies in the middle of last season and was able to contribute nicely in a limited role.

In 16 minutes per game, he was able to average seven points and nearly six rebounds per game on 52 eFG%.  He was a model teammate who has transitioned into a new role in a different phase of his career. Noah has had his differences with LeBron James in the past, but James is known for putting things like that behind him for the best of the team.  Noah could be just that as a third center with a ton of experience.

Kenneth Faried is a younger, springier option that could come close to the statistical impact that Cousins would have brought this season.  Last year after arriving in Houston to help in a situation similar to the Lakers’ current position, Faried posted impressive numbers for a backup center.  He averaged just south of 13 points per game on shooting splits of 59 FG/35 3PT/65 FT.  He also averaged eight rebounds per game.

Boogie averaged three more points but on worse shooting percentages while matching Faried in total rebounds.  Some of this is the benefit of playing in Mike D’Antoni’s hyper offensive system, but the former first-round pick still deserves credit.  He put in work in a new situation and should be able to have a role in the league.  If he could get a shot in La La Land, it may be exactly what everyone involved needs.

Young Bigs

If they do not wish to go down the veteran route, they may be enticed to look at a team like the Detroit Pistons.  Detroit is currently over the roster limit with big men Thon Maker and Christian Wood possibly available.  While the Lakers have limited assets to send back, neither player would come at much cost.  Maker is a pending restricted free agent.  He is also dropping in the rotation.  Possibly a future conditional second round pick would be sufficient, as Maker does not seem able to pair with Blake Griffin.  He would, however, fit in much better with JaVale McGee if head coach Frank Vogel wants to run out some mixed units with two bigger players.

Wood is a more boom or bust type of prospect, but his contract is non-guaranteed.  This way if things do not work out, they could change course quickly.  Wood was impressive down the stretch for the Pelicans last season in games that did not include much effort from everyone involved.  If that is a flash of what he could be, he would be the perfect fill in for Boogie.  There is potential there and the Lakers could figure it out if youth is the desire.

Looking Elsewhere

Centers aren’t the only players who can fill the void.  If the Lakers decide that McGee is sufficient for now until other options become available, they could decide to fill the roster spot with other positions.  The immediate thought of many was to bring Carmelo Anthony in as a scoring punch off the bench.  He does have the obvious LeBron connection, but other than that does not fit the team well.

Andre Iguodala, on the other hand, fits the team much better.  The former Finals MVP is reportedly choosing between both Los Angeles teams while he awaits his buyout.  The Lakers make a lot of sense for him.  He would immediately be on a Western Conference favorite again.  If Iguodala picks the Lakers, they are going to have to make a tough cut.  This could make that decision moot.

Looking for Answers at the End

Losing Cousins is a major blow to the Lakers who were relying on him to have a bounce back season.  While they still have talent on the roster, addressing his position will be a top priority.  Going for someone like Faried makes the most sense in terms of duplicating the skill set and numbers.  Faried is not a glitzy and glamorous player– sometimes smart is not always flashy.

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