Lakers can fulfill crucial Anthony Davis request with trade for Walker Kessler

The Los Angeles Lakers know what Anthony Davis wants. Thankfully, a new trade partner been presented. The roster would improve and Davis would be appeased.
Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz
Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

As the Los Angeles Lakers stare down the possibility of striking out in free agency, the trade market is rearing its head once more. Thankfully, general manager Rob Pelinka has made it no secret that Los Angeles is willing to part with draft capital if it means adding a high-level player.

As fate would have it, a Western Conference rival plays home to a talented young big man who could help Los Angeles fulfill a well-documented request made by franchise player Anthony Davis.

Davis has spoken openly about his preference to spend more time at power forward than center. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is willing to give up a potential first-round draft pick if it means adding a player who can help the team contend.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Utah Jazz have a standout center with an asking price that fits what Los Angeles is willing to pay: Walker Kessler.

"Teams in touch with Utah say the Jazz are looking for at least a first-round pick in return for [Walker] Kessler in these conversations that had gone on earlier in the offseason."

Los Angeles and Utah have thus far not discussed a potential trade, but this could be a golden opportunity for Pelinka to appease his franchise player and improve the roster.

Walker Kessler would thrive alongside Lakers superstar Anthony Davis

Kessler, 22, was selected at No. 22 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft and earned All-Rookie First Team honors in 2022-23. This past season, the former Auburn Tigers star averaged 8.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 offensive boards, and 2.4 blocks in just 23.3 minutes per game.

For perspective, Kessler's averages translate to 12.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.0 offensive boards, and 3.7 blocks per 36 minutes.

The big man also shot 65.4 percent from the field and improved his free throw percentage from 51.6 percent as a rookie to 60.2 percent in year two. It's a promising sign that Kessler's work ethic will permit continued growth, which fits the emphasis that head coach JJ Redick is placing on player development.

Specific to the short-term, Kessler is an elite shot-blocker and tenacious offensive rebounder who can make life significantly easier for Davis on both ends of the floor.

Davis ranked No. 1 in the NBA in second chance points in 2023-24, but the Lakers ranked dead last as a team in the same category. Adding Kessler would offer an opportunity for immediate improvement, as his production ranks among the best in the Association.

Among players who appeared in at least 60 games, Kessler ranked 15th in offensive rebound percentage—a statistic in which Los Angeles ranked 29th as a team.

Defensively, Kessler's shot-blocking prowess offers a promising sign in terms of the type of impact he could provide long-term. He was No. 2 in the NBA in blocks per game and blocks per 36 minutes, and ranked second among centers who played at least 60 games in defensive field goal percentage at the rim.

In other words: With Kessler playing alongside Davis, the Lakers would have a player who can protect the paint, create second chances, and limit the physicality that their franchise star is asked to endure on both ends of the floor.

Furthermore, Kessler is a 7'1" and 245-pound big with a massive 7'4.25" wingspan. It's unfair for anyone to be tasked with locking down a Nikola Jokic level player, but he presents physically as a better matchup than anyone else on the Lakers' roster.

If the goal is to improve in the short-term while keeping an eye on the future, then parting with a first-round draft pick to land Walker Kessler would be a wise decision.