5. Brian Winters
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded a trade to the Lakers in 1975, and LA was not about to miss a chance at acquiring one of the most dominant players of all time. He was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer for more than decades before LeBron James broke the mark in 2023.
The Lakers were coming off a dominant run with Wilt Chamberlain that resulted in just one championship, but five finals appearances. They missed the playoffs in 1975 and knew they needed another dominant big man. Still, the price to acquire Kareem was not cheap.
It cost the Lakers four recent top-12 draft choices, including Winters. The 6’4 guard was the lowest of those selections at 12th overall, but the most accomplished in the end. Winters went on to be a two-time All-Star in Milwaukee where he averaged over 18 points per game for four straight years.
Brian Winters retired from the NBA at 30, but the Lakers got just one of his nine productive seasons. He was once called the best “pure shooter” by Michael Jordan, and there was no denying his incredible skill. Winters also became a fan favorite for the Bucks, and he would have shined in LA if the Lakers could have found a way to keep him out of the Kareem trade.