The Boston Sports guy has thoughts about the Lakers...again. From the start of the season, Bill Simmons has consistently called the Westbrook trade a mistake. Getting Buddy Hield instead of Westbrook would leave the Lakers with a lot more depth and youth. Now that the oldest roster in the NBA is struggling with injuries, Simmons' message to them is simple - shut up.
Since LeBron, Wade, and Bosh joined forces in Miami, the three-star doctrine has been in effect. GMs around the league would have two stars on the roster and still survey the league for a third one. (KD joining the Warriors was a perfect storm, and getting four guys in their prime won't repeat in our lifetime.) The fact of the matter is, the third star is a backup for injures. If you have three healthy stars on the court, one will be reduced to a shell of himself. Just ask Chris Bosh and Kevin Love. They are there to step up in case no.1 or no.2 gets injured.
From an injury risk management standpoint, bringing Russell Westbrook in was a mistake. He's not only in Year 14 - Westbrook is a player whose game is predicated on athleticism with a history of knee procedures. It stopped being news when the Thunder announced Westbrook had some "cleanup" done in the offseason. Who knows how much meniscus is left there (if any).
I don't think I need to get into the basketball fit part of the equation - there is no fit. Since he's joined the NBA, the recipe for building around LeBron has been straightforward. Surround him with shooters and defense. Westbrook is bad at both of those things. In the end, is Westbrook good enough to step in if AD or LeBron miss significant time? Are you winning a title with a LeBron & Westbrook or AD & Westbrook duo? I don't think so either.
If LeBron or AD miss time, you're not winning the title anyway. That's why not trading for Buddy Hield was such an egregious mistake. Not only do you bring in the perfect complementary player for LeBron, but you still have a lot more flexibility to improve your roster.
Simmons' AD theory
Charles Barkley calls Davis "Street Clothes" because AD out with a small but nagging injury isn't even news anymore. Fortunately, most of the time, they are not major injuries, but something always seems to get sprained, bruised, or torn. According to Sir Charles, that's on AD and the training staff to figure out - he openly called them out on that.
I think this is why Davis doesn't want to play the center position. When you are constantly injured and can't fully trust your body, fighting for position with Embiid and Jokić doesn't sound like a risk worth taking - especially in the regular season.
In addition to that, it seems like Davis heard Barkley and thought the same thing. Since joining the Lakers, Davis has put on muscle. While most think it's a good move, Simmons has a different point of view.
Simmons proceeded to compare AD's stats with KG and Hakeem, making the point Davis should be hitting his prime, not slowly declining. Your mileage may vary on this muscle/weight take, but you can't have it both ways. If AD is expected to do what everyone says, and that's play a lot more at the 5, then adding muscle is a no-brainer.
Just making a simple KG comparison isn't totally fair. Some guys just don't get injured, and it has nothing to do with how much work you put in. Don't get me wrong, you have to put in the hours. But as Dwyane Wade explained LeBron's secret, certain things are just a matter of genetics.
[points to the sky] This dude up there. (Out the womb!) He gave him everything. Here’s the thing. We know about taking care of your body. What you put in your body; nutrition. We understand the training that you need. I’ve seen this guy [LeBron] taking care of his body and own it. But I’ve also seen guys can roll their ankle and be out four weeks. I’ve seen this guy roll his ankle and come back and give you 20 in the 4th quarter. I’m talking about a BAD rolled ankle; I’m like, ‘Oh, he done.‘ I’m out 4 weeks with this rolled ankle, he come back 4th quarter, scores 20.
Dwyane Wade, I AM ATHLETE
You want agile, light AD? Then you don't get to ask him to play heavy minutes at the 5. You want him at the 5? Then you can't criticize him for putting on muscle. Can't have it both ways - not with his injury history and body type.
In the end, I think Anthony Davis is a great player but isn't a franchise cornerstone if your goal is bringing Larry O'Brien home. The vision of LeBron gracefully aging as Davis carries the load for most of the season is a fairytale. Davis is an excellent no.2, and that's fine. But even after they finish the Westbrook episode, the Lakers don't have LeBron's heir apparent on the team.
What annoys 29 franchises in the NBA is, that unlike them, the Lakers can always say, "it's going to be fine, someone will show up." From Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Shaq, Kobe to LeBron, someone always does. I guess people just hate snow so much.