While the Los Angeles Lakers spent the past handful of seasons accumulating assets and developing a young core, their trajectory and focus changed last summer with the arrival of LeBron James.
Although the Lakers decided against trading any of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma to pair James with a second All-Star, the team shifted from a heavy emphasis on player development to growing while competing in a tight Western Conference.
Nevertheless, speculation has surfaced over recent weeks that the Lakers would ultimately break up their young core in favor of an established All-Star. Specifically, in a potential trade for Anthony Davis.
Which members of the young core the Lakers should look to retain has become a polarizing subject.
Some value Kuzma’s scoring ability but lament his struggles on defense. Ingram is considered by many to have the most potential but his fit alongside James leaves some to be desired. Ball shares the court well with James but could stand to benefit from becoming an improved shooter.
In the opinion of a former general manager, Kuzma is who carries the most value amongst the Lakers young core, per Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“He’s a legitimate scorer that fits the modern NBA perfectly,” a former general manager told Bleacher Report. “Kuzma has the highest value of the [Lakers’ young prospects]. He’s the most proven.”
Recent indications suggested the Lakers are no longer pursuing a trade that involves Ball, but do have Hart, Moritz Wagner and Ivica Zubac available on the market. It was previously reported Ingram would eventually be traded for a second All-Star.
There hasn’t been any clear indications as to how the Lakers value or would prioritize their young players. What does seem evident is Ingram and Kuzma are held in high regard by other teams.
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