The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to DeMar DeRozan on multiple occasions over the past 9 months. Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer stated in November of 2020 that the team was interested in acquiring DeRozan for Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma.
Unfortunately, the Lakers couldn’t agree to a deal with the Spurs at the time. Although the team failed to get DeRozan, insiders believe they could circle back to him this summer. Bobby Marks of ESPN ($$$) stated in June that the team could attempt to acquire him via sign and trade in August.
But does it make sense for the Lakers to pursue DeRozan? No, as he will spend most of his minutes off the ball. Los Angeles runs an offensive system that primarily features post-ups and pick and rolls. The Lakers were second in post-ups during the 2019-20 season, averaging 8.8 per game.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James accounted for 87.5 percent of those possessions as they combined to average 7.7 per game. On the other hand, the Lakers were 25th in pick and roll possessions, averaging 16.6 per game. James led the team in pick and rolls as he accounted for 42.2 percent of their possessions, averaging 7 per game.
Let’s take a look at how the Los Angeles Lakers would use DeMar DeRozan next season if he is acquired via sign and trade.
The structure of the Lakers’ offense led to other role players on the roster having to be floor spacers. For example, Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took over 38 percent of their shots from behind the arc as they averaged 2.6 and 3.5 per game, respectively.
At least 50 percent of those threes were catch and shoots as Rondo and Caldwell-Pope averaged 1.3 and 3, respectively. The Lakers didn’t change their offense coming into this past season as they were 2nd in post-ups, averaging 9.3 per game. Davis and James accounted for 88.2 percent of those post-ups, combining to average 8.2 per game.
On the other hand, Los Angeles was 27th in pick and rolls, averaging 16.6 per game. James was given 33.1 percent of those possessions, averaging 5.5 per game. Therefore, role players like Dennis Schröder and Caldwell-Pope took at least 28.1 percent of their shots from behind the arc when Davis and James were healthy. For example, Schröder and Caldwell-Pope averaged 3.2 and 3.6 threes, respectively, in the first 27 games of the season, before Anthony Davis going down with right Achilles tendinosis.
Once Anthony Davis went down with right Achilles tendinosis versus the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles wasn’t fully healthy again until the playoffs. When the Lakers were fully healthy in the playoffs, Schröder and Pope were still taking at least 36 percent of their shots from behind the arc, as they averaged 4.3 and 3.8 per game, respectively.
Unfortunately, DeRozan doesn’t have the skillset to thrive as a floor spacer as he has only made 33.3 percent of his catch and shoots since 2013 on 1.2 attempts per game. Catch and shoots were responsible for 70.6 percent of his shots as he shot 29.7 percent from behind the arc on 1.7 attempts per game.
The only way DeRozan would make sense for the Lakers is if they put him as the primary ball-handler. DeRozan has averaged 8.4 pick and rolls per game since 2015, shooting 47.2 percent from the field on 6.4 attempts. The shooting percentage contributed to him scoring 8.2 points per game: 35.3 percent of his scoring output.
Unfortunately, making DeRozan the primary ball handler would force James off the ball. James is known to be an average shooter. James has shot 35.4 percent since 2013 on 5 attempts per game. James’ average shooting will compel defenders to leave him wide open when he’s off the ball. Therefore, James’ defender could go help on DeRozan, increasing the likelihood that he takes a contested shot.
Consequently, Los Angeles would be better off looking at guards who can succeed off the ball. A possible candidate can be Kemba Walker, who has made 38.9 percent of his catch and shoots on 2.7 attempts per game.
Catch and shoots have accounted for 39.1 percent of his attempts, as he has shot 36.7 percent from behind the arc on 6.9 shots per game. Kemba’s ability to thrive off the ball makes him a better fit alongside Davis and James. The Lakers could offer the Oklahoma City Thunder their 2026 first-round pick, along with Kyle Kuzma and Pope for Walker.
In conclusion, DeRozan’s inability to thrive as a shooter would make him a bad fit for Los Angeles.