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Who should the Lakers sign: Dion Waiters or JR Smith?

  • Dion Waiters and JR Smith will work out with the Los Angeles Lakers this week - but which player should they sign?
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 03 Mar 2020, 04:31 IST

JR Smith might reunite with LeBron James, should the Lakers sign him for the rest of the season
JR Smith might reunite with LeBron James, should the Lakers sign him for the rest of the season

The cut-off date for the NBA buyout market was March 1, and the Lakers made the final move by waiving off Troy Daniels. With this move, they have opened a roster spot to fill in with a shooter who can support Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

But do the Lakers truly need a shooter?

The Lakers have the best record in the West and sit at the top of the Western Conference standings. LeBron has been in sublime form, leading the squad from the front. He has been getting a sufficient amount of support from fellow Lakers and the team is gelling well.

However, one factor which many experts have focused upon is an additional three-point shooter who can knock down deep shots at a consistent clip. The Lakers are shooting 35.8% from beyond the arc and currently rank 16th, in terms of three-point shooting. However, they are not far behind the Utah Jazz - they top the list with a shooting percentage of 38.5%.

To some, me included, an addition to a well-settled and productive line-up appears vague. However, it appears the Lakers' management are keen to avoid leaving any potential gaps this season. LeBron turned 35 in late December and this season might be the best opportunity for the Lakers to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy. So it wouldn't be surprising to see a sharpshooter emerge in LA over the coming days.

The organisation's latest advances suggest they are mainly interestedi n two players - Dion Waiters and JR Smith. Both have had their fair share of NBA experience and in this piece, I analyse which one is a better fit for the Lakers.

Dion Waiters

The Lakers were said to be impressed by Dion Waiters
The Lakers were said to be impressed by Dion Waiters' workout on Monday

With career averages of 13.2 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game, Waiters also has a three-point shooting average of 34.8% during his nine-year career to date. He is capable of being a go-to shooter for the Lakers, able to score some points off the bench and can equally space the floor pretty well too.

However, the ability to create his own shot makes Waiters a unique contender for this spot. After LeBron and AD, they lack a third player who can create his own shot consistently - so Waiters would fill this prevailing gap and do so as part of the second unit often.

Ultimately, every coin has two sides and there is another piece to the puzzle that is Waiters' NBA career. His disciplinary conduct will be a major concern for the Lakers to consider.

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He was suspended on three separate occasions by Miami this season, has been detrimental to the team's environment previously and they will be reluctant to spoil the good mood around their squad with an emotinally-charged veteran who could ruin chemistry.

JR Smith

The Lakers are set to workout with JR Smith later this week.
The Lakers are set to workout with JR Smith later this week.

JR Smith is a well-known name who played a pivotal role for the Cleveland Cavaliers during their 2016 title win. His career averages in points (12.5) and rebounds (3.2) trump that of Waiters, while he also averages one steal per game and shoots at a better rate.

A career 37.3% shooter from deep, his role would be similar to that of Waiters: a go-to shooter able of creating his own shot, just like their two superstars.

In addition, JR's presence would provide further championship experience to a team with LeBron and Danny Green among their ranks. He has played with LeBron in Cleveland and wouldn't have any problems fitting into their playstyle either.

The Lakers have scheduled workouts with both players this week, as fitness and match sharpness is taken into account. As far as selecting a player is concerned though, I would undoubtedly go with JR Smith as a better short-term option for the Lakers going forward.

Published 03 Mar 2020, 04:31 IST
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