5. Jaden McDaniels
The Lakers shook up their roster after winning the championship inside the bubble in 2020. Much of their supporting cast was in their 30s, which left LA feeling like it needed to get younger and add more ball-handling if it wanted to stay in contention.
They jumped at the chance to trade for Dennis Schroder, who was coming off arguably the best season of his career with the Thunder. It cost them the 28th overall pick in the 2020 draft and Danny Green. The draft night trade left McDaniels as a Lakers pick, but he would be dealt again before putting on a uniform.
The 6’9 forward has quickly made the Lakers and Thunder regret trading him away. He averaged 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals, and 1.0 block in 30.6 minutes as a starter for the Timberwolves last season. McDaniels is a plus-defender with a developing jump shot. He should be a key rotation piece for the next decade-plus and is already a player that every contender wants.
Dennis Schroder played well in 2021, but the Lakers crashed out of the playoffs in the first round. He refused an extension and lost a ton of money in free agency. Schroder left Los Angeles for one season before returning in 2022 for another year. The Lakers wish they would have kept Jaden McDaniels as he would remain a key piece of their rotation on a rookie contract.