The Los Angeles Lakers sent shock waves throughout the NBA late Wednesday as they traded away Russell Westbrook and a lightly protected first-round pick for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt in a three-team deal with the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves.
ESPN Sources: The Lakers are finalizing deal to land Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt in trade including Mike Conley and picks to Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook and a lightly protected 2027 LA first-round pick to Jazz.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2023
The Westbrook experiment in Los Angeles was bound to come to an end as his fit was as bad as it could be. The Lakers finished with a 33-49 record last season and are currently 25-30 with just 27 games remaining in the season.
The Lakers certainly upgraded with Russell, Beasley and Vanderbilt and now have a team with solid depth at each position.
Here is how we’re grading each acquisition:
D’Angelo Russell: A-
Russell immediately becomes the Lakers’ best 3-point shooter from deep as he’s a career 36.0 percent shooter from 3 and is shooting an elite 39.1 percent from that range this season. Currently, the Lakers’ best shooter from deep averaging at least two 3-point attempts per game is Lonnie Walker IV. Walker is shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range.
More importantly, the Lakers benefit immediately from addition by subtraction. Westbrook had become unplayable at the end of games due to his high-turnover propensity and inability to slow the game down at critical junctures of the game. He has always been known to have a low basketball IQ, and the Lakers should benefit immediately just from having him off the floor.
One knock on Russell’s game is his lack of defense. He’s never been known for his defense and struggles to stay in front of opposing guards. Nonetheless, the Lakers need him more for his playmaking and shooting abilities.
Malik Beasley: B
Much like Russell, Beasley immediately becomes one of the Lakers’ best 3-point shooters as he’s a career 38.0 percent shooter from deep. He actually shot a blistering 42.6 percent from 3-point range while with the Wolves in the 2019-20 season and averaged 20.7 points per game.
Look for him to compete with Walker for minutes as the Lakers now have a great problem with a surplus of talent at their shooting guard slot. Again, like Russell, Beasley is not known for his defense, but his catch-and-shoot ability could be just what the doctor ordered, especially with LeBron James initiating the offense.
Jarred Vanderbilt: B+
Vanderbilt is a player that Lakers fans should get excited about as he’s just 23 years of age and brings a large 6-foot-8 frame and 7-foot-1 wingspan to the Lakers. The power forward is extremely versatile on the defensive end and will wreak havoc next to Anthony Davis and James.
The University of Kentucky product is under contract for next season, but is only set to make $4.6 million. The Lakers couldn’t have asked for a better bargain as Vanderbilt’s non-stop effort on the defensive end likely warrants a salary much greater than that.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has struck gold right before Thursday’s trade deadline by dumping Westbrook’s gargantuan salary and parting with just a top-four protected first-round pick. However, with the team quickly running out of time, will they be able to squeeze into the postseason?