4 best Lakers’ targets in free agency after 2023 NBA Draft
Los Angeles Lakers’ free-agency will be crucial this offseason. The franchise is coming up to the end of its LeBron James, Anthony Davis window, and they need to make some moves for one last run. The team has Lakers’ free agents they need to re-sign, like Austin Reaves, and players they can target after the 2023 NBA Draft. Here are the four best targets for LA in 2023 NBA free agency.
4. Seth Curry
This is going to be a common theme of these best Lakers free agency targets, but the team needs shooting and ball handling around James and Davis. With the way the Lakers’ salary cap is now, the team can likely afford two lower- to mid-level veteran free agents while still re-signing a few of their own key Lakers free agents.
One of the first targets should be Seth Curry. The veteran guard is a shooter who can handle the ball, make plays, and shoot from deep. He is an excellent cog in almost any offense, and playing with James and Davis, he’ll get more open shots than he’s ever seen.
Curry is a career 43.5% 3-point shooter whose percentage from deep has never dipped below 40% in any season he’s played more than two games. He’s also averaged over 12 points per game in six seasons and did it with a 15.2% career usage rate.
There are plenty of defensive concerns with Curry, but his role will be instant offense off the bench and being a ball handler with the second unit. That makes him a worthwhile Lakers’ free agency target after the NBA draft.
3. Max Strus
Miami Heat wing Max Strus is another player for LA to consider in tandem with or instead of Seth Curry. Strus shoots 37.1% from deep and can space the floor for his Lakers teammates.
He would also bring that Heat mentality to the West Coast, which Lebron knows all about. Strus has spent his entire NBA career thus far under Erik Spoelstra, so he knows how to play team basketball on both sides of the court and the effort that is required to play high-level team defense.
Strus came into this own this season, putting up career highs in games (80), minutes (28.4), points (11.5), rebounds (3.2), and assists (2.1). And for the Lakers’ free-agent targets, playing that many games is important.
This is an aging squad and someone who can fill the minutes in the regular season is almost as important as how they fill them.
2. Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura was a huge mid-season addition for the Lakers, and now they need to find a way to keep their restricted free agents. LA can match any deal a team gives him in NBA free agency, but there are ways another franchise can poison the well with his contract and make it difficult for the Lakers to match.
That said, there is another restricted Lakers free agent who will get more attention and unique contract offers than Hachimura (more on that below).
As for the four-year NBA veteran, Hachimura proved to be a perfect complement for LeBron James and Anthony Davis this year, especially in the playoffs. His ability to score, move the ball, and defend multiple positions was one of the biggest reasons the Lakers made it as far as they did.
Hachimura scored 20-plus points four times in this year’s postseason and was one of the team’s best, most consistent performers against the Denver Nuggets, putting up 17, 21, 13, and 10 points in the four-game sweep.
In Washington, Hachimura was miscast as a team-carrying star. On the Lakers, as a sixth man, and clutch-time performer, he has found his nitch, which is why LA needs to do whatever it can to keep him.
1. Austin Reaves
The other restricted Lakers’ free agent is Austin Reaves. The young sharpshooter shot 39.8% from deep this season as he went from an unknown, undrafted youngster to a household NBA name.
Like Rui Hachimura, Reaves was incredible in the postseason and one of the few bright spots in the final, embarrassing sweep by the Nuggets. Reaves has seven 20-plus point games in the postseason and put up 23, 22, 23, and 17 vs. Denver.
A young deadeye like Reaves, who can also create (3.4 assists) and handle the ball, is incredibly valuable in the modern NBA. That’s why teams are going to come after him hard, pulling out offer sheets that aren’t bad in the first year or two but balloon to near the max in the last two years.
The Lakers’ free agency plans have to include keeping Reaves, though, even if the team brings in other shooters like Curry and Struss. Reaves is just 25, and he could be a long-term building piece as well as a championship player this season.
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