There has been a lot of player movement in Los Angeles in recent years. The Los Angeles Lakers have cycled through role players at an accelerated rate as the team continuously tries to find the right pieces to put around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
This year's team has the most continuity of any of the recent teams since LeBron came to town. The front office made it a point to bring back the key members of last season's rotation and make complementary additions where possible.
Not every member of last year's core was brought back, though, and in typical Lakers fashion, one of the players who left is now enjoying a breakout season. After becoming unplayable for the Lakers in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, Malik Beasley is enjoying an excellent season with the Milwaukee Bucks to burn the Lakers one last time.
Malik Beasley is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA away from the Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Beasley in the Russell Westbrook trade at the deadline in large part because of his expiring contract. While Beasley was a bit overpaid, he had a club option for the 2023-24 season and at the very least, would bring consistent three-point shooting to the team.
Except that is not what happened. Beasley never really found his footing with the Lakers as the team's shooting curse hit him as hard as any other recent role player. Beasley shot 35.3% from three in the regular season but saw that crater to 26.9% in the playoffs. Beasley's role was already reduced to around 10 minutes per game once the playoffs started and by the time the Western Conference Finals rolled around, he was reserved to clean-up duty.
Fast forward to this season with the Bucks and Beasley has found his shooting stroke, hitting 46.2% of his threes in 6.3 attempts per game. Beasley ranks 18th in the league in total three-pointers made and is first in the entire league in three-point percentage with at least 180 attempts this season.
Unfortunately, Beasley is not the only former Laker who has become automatic from beyond the arc. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is shooting 41.2%, Lonnie Walker IV is shooting 46.3%, and Matt Ryan actually leads the league as he is shooting 47.1% (albeit in far fewer attempts as he has only taken 68 threes).
The Lakers' shooting curse is very real and Beasley is a firm reminder of that. Eight months ago he was unplayable in the NBA Playoffs and it was hard to imagine him getting a roster spot on a contender. Now, he is one of the most important role players on one of the league's best teams.