Now that the dust has largely settled on 2018’s free agency, it’s at point of the summer when teams can begin to piece together what they have and build a gameplan. The Los Angeles Lakers made the most game-changing move by signing LeBron James to a four-year contract.
Many, however, were critical of the moves the Lakers made afterwards. Namely, signing Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Javale McGee and Michael Beasley, even if each received a one-year deal.
Most critics cited a distinct lack of shooting surrounding James that could ultimately hurt the team this season. Though many, including Beasley, aren’t concerned with these critiques, and argue the team has better shooters than they are being given credit for.
Another member of the Lakers organization who is not overly worried about the perception is director of scouting Jesse Buss. He cited the Lakers’ 2018 first-draft round pick Moritz Wagner as a prime example and the team’s notable big man who should mesh well with James, via Mike Trudell:
“Yea, because he’s our only guy that can play the five position that can stretch the floor the way he did in college. He didn’t shoot as well in Summer League, but that was a small sample size, of course. I think that’s a natural fit right there. Obviously, LeBron has had a tremendous amount of success having shooters around him in his career. It just gives us a lot of different options, with a lot of bigs who can do different things.”
Wagner shot just 37% from the field in his three Las Vegas Summer League games. But that was hardly indicative of his capability. In college, Wagner shot nearly 40 percent from deep and 52.8 percent from the field in his final season at Michigan.
Yes, much like Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, Wagner will need time to adjust to the NBA three-point line, but should he be the shooter he is advertised to be, he will be an excellent weapon to have alongside James.
In an ideal scenario, Wagner could play a role similar to that of Chris Bosh when James was with the Miami Heat. Buss has proven that he knows how to draft outside of the lottery, so Laker fans should be confident when he says that Wagner and James will go hand in hand.