A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The alternate timeline Lakers: If Bynum had been dealt for Iguodala

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Andre Iguodala on November 23, 2010

Andre Iguodala on November 23, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I listed my reasons for believing the Lakers’ immediate improvement after the Dwight Howard trade is overstated, here

What’s fascinating to me is that Andre Iguodala, of course a key component of the Howard trade being shipped to Denver, would have been an absolute perfect fit for the Lakers’ needs. If you haven’t read the previous article, my biggest problem with the Lakers roster is that their perimeter speed on defense is flawed and that they may not be able to rotate on help D sharply enough to guard either the Thunder’s athletes or Spurs’ ball movement and shooters. Iguodala of course is an elixir to that, as arguably one of the two best perimeter defenders in the league alongside Lebron James.

Was there a way for the Lakers to both get Howard and Iguodala, by say, shipping Pau Gasol to Denver? Possibly, but Gasol’s contract and age may give him less value than Iguodala to a young team like Denver. What is certain however is that a one to one deal with Philadelphia with Bynum and Iguodala, would have been on the table for the Lakers – since obviously, the Sixers DID trade Iguodala for Bynum.

Let’s say the Sixers would have agreed to a trade of Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and young Moe Harkless to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum, which by my math works under the salary cap. The Lakers would then be looking at approximately this lineup:

PG: Steve Nash / Steve Blake / Darius Morris

SG: Kobe Bryant / Jodie Meeks / Andrew Goudelock

SF: Andre Iguodala / Metta World Peace / Moe Harkless / Devin Ebanks

PF: Thaddeus Young / Antawn Jamison / Earl Clark

C: Pau Gasol / Jordan Hill

This is a fascinating lineup. In the long term, true, they’re better off having gotten a true superstar in Howard to build around. But in the context of which creates a better 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 Lakers team, I could be sold on this being the best roster. For one thing while there isn’t Howard down low defensively, Iguodala shoring up their perimeter defense shores up a huge hole for them. Iguodala could guard the best wing player at all times to ease Bryant, as well as fill in as backup SG most of the time. More importantly his help defense would be dynamic and a boost. Secondly, Pau Gasol was most effective in a Laker uniform playing center, with Lamar Odom at power forward. His struggles recently have been related to moving him to PF and asking him to spread the floor in the high post for Bynum. This creates a perfect situation for Pau, at center with power forwards who play small and stretch the floor. He and not Howard would be the beneficiary of Nash at point. This could get Pau back to elite production. The Lakers frontcourt would start to play more like they did in 2009 and 2010. Of course the Lakers would have also have a fast break for the first time in years.

Replacing Howard and Bynum ultimately did not change the team’s strengths and weaknesses, it merely made a strength a presumably even bigger strength. But swapping Bynum for Iguodala would have changed the team, for better or worse. They’d have gotten smaller, more athletic and faster, with finesse in the frontcourt replacing power. If the Lakers don’t win another title before Kobe Bryant retires, they may be wondering about the alternate, “Iguodala timeline”, even if they are happy with a star in Howard to rebuild around.

Written by jr.

August 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

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