6 former Lakers who would’ve turned LA into true title contenders this season

The Lakers need these former players on their roster to be title contenders.

Los Angeles Lakers, Alex Caruso, LeBron James
Los Angeles Lakers, Alex Caruso, LeBron James / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Kyle Kuzma

The Lakers acquired Kuzma in a 2017 draft night trade with the Nets, and the 6’9 forward played a key role in their 2020 title run inside the bubble. He mostly was a scorer off the bench, but the Lakers traded him as part of the package to land Russell Westbrook in 2021.

Kuzma has blossomed on the Wizards. Fans will immediately point to his scoring and playmaking improvements, but there is more to it. The 28-year-old has shot over 40 percent on his corner 3-pointers for two straight years. The Mavericks wanted to trade for him before the deadline (subscription required), but Kuzma declined. He could help a contender if he was willing to scale back his role.

In Los Angeles, he would be a secondary or tertiary creator who spaces the floor and plays stout defense. Kuzma helped the Lakers win a championship in a similar role. He would likely get more shots and playmaking opportunities now. Kuzma is in his prime, and LeBron James is slowly fading.

Kyle Kuzma would be an upgrade over Taurean Prince, Rui Hachimura, Cam Reddish, and Jarred Vanderbilt for the Lakers. Just getting a bit more production from that group would be massive, but the failed Russell Westbrook trade came back to bite LA again.