It appears as though the Los Angeles Lakers are going to start trade season with a bang.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are "well on course" to acquire Dennis Schröder from the Oklahoma City Thunder when the NBA's moratorium is lifted.
Wojnarowski added that Danny Green and the No. 28 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft have been a focus of the trade discussions.
Lakers guard Danny Green and the No. 28 overall pick have been a focus of the trade discussions for Schröder, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/KOAcjyIked- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 15, 2020
Schröder is coming off of the most complete season of his career. In 65 games with the Thunder, he averaged 18.9 points, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds on .469/.385/.839 shooting splits. He was one of the best reserves in the league, finishing second in Sixth Man of the Year voting behind LA Clippers centre Montrezl Harrell.
There might be more moves to come for the Lakers this offseason, but the addition of Schröder would give the defending champions a tremendous boost if the trade goes through.
Help is on the way
The offence is still going to run through LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Schröder would give the Lakers another ball handler who can create offence for himself and others at a high level.
According to NBA.com, Schröder generated 38.4 percent of his offence as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls last season, which was one of the higher rates in the league. He was around league average in pick-and-roll efficiency, ranking in the 51st percentile with an average of 0.85 points per possession.
That's important for a couple of reasons.
First, Schröder would be able to take some of the playmaking burden off of James and Davis. We saw how valuable Rajon Rondo was to the Lakers in the playoffs. Schröder would be able to make a similar impact on a more consistent basis, especially in the regular season. He's nowhere near the passer Rondo is, but he's a far more versatile scorer. He's a solid finisher around the basket and while he's not much of a 3-pointer shooter off the dribble - Schröder made only 26.8 percent of his pull-up 3-point attempts in 2019-20 - he was one of the best midrange scorers in the league last season.
Schröder makes even more sense for the Lakers if Rondo leaves the team in free agency, which is looking more and more likely by the day.
Secondly, Schröder would help the Lakers win the non-LeBron minutes. Last season, the Lakers went from averaging 112.1 points per 100 possessions with James on the court to 105.2 with him on the bench. That was the difference between the Lakers ranking seventh in offensive efficiency and 29th. Schröder could give them the firepower they need to better survive the minutes James is off the court, giving them another scorer to pair with Davis.
An encouraging sign: Oklahoma City averaged 111.6 points per 100 possessions with Schröder on the court and Chris Paul on the bench last season. The Lakers would do backflips if Schröder could make a similar impact in Los Angeles because they wouldn't have to rely as much on James entering his age 36 season.
Keeping it spaced
This is the big one.
According to NBA.com, around a quarter (24.0 percent) of Schröder's field goal attempts last season were catch-and-shoot 3s. He made 41.4 percent of those opportunities, putting him on the same page as sharpshooters like Buddy Hield, Danilo Gallinari and Kemba Walker.
While Schröder isn't the type to run off of screens, he was one of the best spot-up scorers in the league, ranking in the 77th percentile with 1.12 points per possession.
His ability to space the floor at a high level played a big role in the success of the Thunder's three guard lineup, something I wrote about in more detail here.
The concern with Schröder is that he's been an up-and-down 3-point shooter throughout his career. Two seasons ago, he made 35.0 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s. The season before that? 28.0 percent.
But if his 3-point shooting from last season carries over into this season, it would make it easier for the Lakers to play him alongside James and Davis at the end of games.
The opportunity cost
Green struggled in the playoffs, but he was an important piece to the Lakers last season. If he is traded, the Lakers would miss his volume 3-point shooting and his defence. Schröder was a much improved defender last season, but Green is far more versatile and is a far superior help defender.
Something to watch: Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Lakers are trying to lure Wesley Matthews away from the Milwaukee Bucks. If they were to get Schröder and Matthews, the Lakers would have a much better shot at replacing what Green brought to the table last season.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.