2019 NBA Free Agency Role Players: Bigs

NBA Free Agency
2019 NBA Free Agency role players: Big Men (Credit: Dillon Hiser/Lakers Outsiders)

The Lakers have a tough road ahead of them to fill out a team that can win a championship. LeBron James and Anthony Davis is an excellent start, but role players are crucial to a team’s success in the postseason more so than ever.

Finding frontcourt depth for Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma with the available cap space won’t be easy, but here are a few players available during the 2019 NBA free agency that are viable options for the team to take a look at in free agency.

Ed Davis

Ed Davis seems to be loved by fans, especially when he leaves their team. Lakers fans vocalized that he should have stayed when leaving for Portland. Portland fans missed him when he signed with Brooklyn.

Davis is a free agent now and he would make a nice addition to the 2019-2020 Lakers. He would not provide too many minutes but he is a serviceable big man. Anthony Davis (no relation) prefers playing power forward, Davis can fill in the role as a center.

Davis averaged 5.8 points and a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game to go along with a 34.6% defensive rebound percentage. Davis’s offensive game is limited to a “score at the bucket” type player.  He shot 68.9% within three feet of the rim, 35.1% from three to 10 feet and took no shots beyond that. Defensively he is not much of a shot blocker, averaging 0.4 BPG on the year.

Davis’s return would be useful for the Lakers moving forward into the season. He can provide good back up big minutes as a rebounder and lob threat as .602% of his FG’s were assisted, which bodes well for a team with LeBron James.

written by Kendrew Abueg

JaVale McGee

If the Lakers opt for more continuity for the 2019 NBA free agency period, JaVale McGee makes about as much sense as anyone else from the 2018-19 roster. Despite signing on a veteran minimum deal, McGee immediately became a crucial part of the team’s rotation, so much so that his bout with pneumonia was a major turning point in the season. McGee averaged 12 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last year while protecting the paint to the tune of two blocks per game. In addition, McGee’s 22.3 minutes per game were his most since the 2011-12 season.

When operating in the areas he was most comfortable with, McGee was an offensive force on a team with several playmakers who could get him the ball near the rim where he could finish with his length. According to Synergy, McGee was in the 73rd percentile among all NBA players on cuts, 88th percentile as the pick-and-roll roll man and 90th percentile in transition. JaVale exemplifies the prototypical modern big, offensively, by being a rim runner who can space the floor vertically and act as a lob threat on every possession. Defensively, McGee was more of a mixed bag. He shot blocked well and was about average guarding the pick-and-roll.

McGee’s not going to terrify opponents but he’s not a liability on the defensive end, either. More importantly, he can eat up minutes, rebound the ball and provide a ton of value offensively. McGee should have suitors as a bargain bin big (and will be meeting with the Rockets for that reason) but if the Lakers can sell him on a strong role as either the starting center of Davis’ backup with the strong chance of contending for a title, then they could bring back JaVale and get everything they need from the position.

Written by Honi Ahmadian

Boban Marjanovic

Boban Marjanovic won’t be one of the most sought after bigs available on the market, but that doesn’t mean he can’t offer value in a small role. He only played an average of 11.7 minutes per game with both the Clippers and the 76ers last season, and with his limitations, he probably isn’t suited for much more than that. However, if he can be acquired on a minimum contract, he would be a decent third center to use in spot situations.

Although Boban was a 40% three-point shooter* last season, the paltry sample size there means that he shouldn’t be counted upon to stretch the floor. As a 7’3” behemoth that doesn’t need to leave the ground to dunk, though, he can inflict short bursts of damage from just beneath the basket and is good enough at cleaning up the glass, especially on the offensive end where he has averaged five offensive rebounds per 36 minutes over the course of his four year NBA career.

Boban’s defensive stats don’t jump off the page either, but that’s hard to accomplish for someone who gets such little playing time. Still, he averaged 1.4 blocks per 36 last season, and I can’t imagine there are too many players eager to approach that 7’3”, nearly 300-pound frame when he’s protecting the rim. He has the potential to be able to cover for any defensive lapses by his teammates in the limited minutes that he would see.

All in all, if he comes at the right price, the Lakers could do worse than signing Boban Marjanovich to provide some depth to their center rotation. He probably shouldn’t be their first, second, or maybe even third option though, and it might be hard to convince him to sign on if his best friend Tobias Harris isn’t coming along with him.

* Marjanovic made four out of his 10 three-point attempts in the 2018-2019 season according to Basketball-Reference.

written by Colten Parchert

Robin Lopez
Mar 12, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez (42) dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Robin Lopez

It’s difficult to quantify how Robin Lopez might be able to help the Lakers following his years in basketball purgatory on the Chicago Bulls. However, for a vet minimum deal for someone who might want to chase a ring and play on a good team, Lopez could serve to be a promising acquisition.

Not to be confused with twin brother and former Lakers’ center Brook Lopez, Robin absolutely cannot stretch the floor. Lopez has taken 51 shots in his career and made 11 and went 7-31 in 2018-2019. The former Stanford standout is far more comfortable under the basket than he is stretching the floor.

Lopez isn’t anything to write home about defensively either. The primary attraction to Lopez would be to fill out the roster for very spot minutes and to provide a stable locker room presence. Sometimes the locker rooms on LeBron James led teams can get a little fiesty, and Lopez seems to have a level head.

written by Kyle Hartwick

DeMarcus Cousins

Far removed from his days of being an All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins could be a veteran minimum acquisition for the Lakers frontcourt depth. Anthony Davis and Cousins played together (albeit briefly) during Cousins’ time with the Pelicans and the experiment and had mixed results.

With Cousins on the court with Davis, the two had a net rating of plus 4.2, which isn’t bad but isn’t elite. With Cousins off the court, Davis had a net rating of 6.2. Davis was better without Cousins in net rating, but shot better from the field with Cousins on the court. The gravity that Cousins had in that season allowed Davis for more open shots.

However, Boogie doesn’t have the gravity on the court that he used to. He isn’t the same that he was before the injury. Cousins would be good on a league minimum, but I wouldn’t want to spend any more money on him than we have to.

written by Kyle Hartwick

Julius Randle

Julius Randle had his qualifying offer renounced nearly a year ago today. Lakers fans are pretty familiar with the former 7th overall pick. His first year away from Hollywood yielded positive results. His price tag is higher than what the Lakers can afford but it’s for good reason

Randle eclipsed 30 minutes per game with the Pelicans. He had a career-high in ppg (21.4) and 3pt% (34.4 on again a career-high 2.7 attempted). His ability to play the four or even the small ball five is evident. This sort of frontcourt versatility would be fantastic on the Lakers.

A high energy player like Randle would be beneficial to any team. A reunion between him and the Lakers would be great as well. He showed a penchant for playing with Anthony Davis in the 1058 minutes they played together. The duo had an offensive rating of 113 and a defensive rating of 109.

Sadly, the Lakers never had the opportunity to see how LeBron James and Julius Randle could work together. Randle showed that he can provide defense on switches and a willingness to pass. Randle also could have been a reliable pick and roll player. He also finished with .689% shooting from within three feet of the basket.

Mentioned before, Julius Randle would be a welcome addition to the Lakers during this pivotal summer. The issue will be able to afford him and how he would slot into the team. Would he start at the four while LeBron starts at the three with AD at the five? It’s a good problem to have. If he’s a player brought in, the idea of an AD/LBJ/Randle/Kuzma frontcourt has the potential to be a lot of fun.

written by Kendrew Abueg


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