Should Lakers Have Prioritized DeMar DeRozan Over Russell Westbrook?

Los Angeles Lakers, DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers got a first-hand look of what could have been when they played against the Chicago Bulls. Numerous players on the team had been with the Lakers or were in their crosshairs in the NBA offseason.

Alex Caruso signed with the Bulls in free agency, leaving the Lakers after the offer they gave him was of the low-ball variety. He provided plenty of energy and impacted the game without having to score.

Lonzo Ball has continued rounding out his game. He is one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA and has even defended some wing players. The improvements he has made shooting the ball, especially from 3-point land, are impressive as well.

The one player that Los Angeles may be regretting getting away is DeMar DeRozan. During the Bulls’ road trip this week, which included a 121-103 drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers, DeRozan opened up about how close he was to landing with the purple and gold.

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The Compton native thought that everyone was on the same page and that he would eventually be a Laker. He would be returning home via sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs as his agent worked hard behind the scenes.

Then, something changed. The Lakers worked quietly on a deal with the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook. After consummating that deal on the night of the NBA Draft, the pursuit ofDeMar DeRozan ended.

Hindsight is 20/20, but with how things have gone thus far this season, it is fair to question if the Lakers made the wrong decision pursuing Westbrook in favor of DeRozan. DeRozan is having an incredible season with the Bulls, fitting in perfectly despite some people saying he would make for an awkward fit.

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He is thriving, averaging 26.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 0.9 steals per game. DeRozan is keeping teams honest with his 3-point shooting, which was an area of concern coming into the season.

Westbrook, on the other hand, has struggled at the start of his Lakers career. The team is better on both ends of the court when he is off the floor, he is turning the ball over at an astronomical rate and he is struggling to finish around the rim. All of the worries about adding him to a roster with LeBron James and Anthony Davis have come to fruition thus far as he is struggling to find his niche.

Acquiring DeRozan in a sign-and-trade with the Spurs would have cost Los Angeles some of the depth it required to land Westbrook, but it would have been cheaper monetarily. That could have allowed the team to refrain from including someone such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the trade package.

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Also, that extra money could have gone toward retaining someone such as Caruso in free agency. If Rob Pelinka could go back in time, he would certainly rethink making the trade for Russell Westbrook and focus on bringing in DeMar DeRozan instead.