“In The Scope With Joshua M. Hicks” is a weekly column from the lead columnist of WARR
The Los Angeles Lakers made a big splash in this latest NBA free agency period when “The King” himself, LeBron James, decided to switch from reigning in the Eastern Conference for eight straight years to living it up in Western Conference.
With its obvious life improvements on and off the court, LeBron made what eventually looked to be the smartest move for him as he enters his mid-30s and the potential multi-media mogul stage of his life.
Subsequent signings by the Lakers — including former Warriors center JaVale McGee and mercurial yet still-talented guards Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo — may look shaky under enough scrutiny, but they are signs that team president Magic Johnson and the Lakers front office their aren’t hesitating to put around their greatest acquisition a team that could at least spark the imagination on-court and possibly lead to an even better season than even die-hards can imagine.
By Monday evening one could even ask what, if anything, could the Lake Show do to clinch its status as the biggest winners of the Summer of 2018. The answer to that question emerged the next day and given the overall price of the move, the lack of risk involved and the team who pulled it off, it couldn’t have been a bigger stick in the back to the Purple and Gold.
How much bigger could the Lakers’ free agent splash have been if they took advantage of the 1-year/$5.3 million dollar deal that landed DeMarcus Cousins with the Warriors? Although the interest was mutual on both sides, the Lakers reportedly took a deal off the table due to not wanting to risk getting nothing out the comeback process from Cousins’ Achilles injury.
So with the Lakers, and really the entire league, not on the ball the Warriors just shrugged and created a potential five All-Star lineup for themselves.
This may be the biggest signing in this free agency period so far, even bigger than the LeBron decision, on paper, but in reality it is still a risky venture with a lot that could possibly go wrong depending on how Boogie immerses himself in the upcoming experience.
Boogie is arguably the best big man in the NBA, averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds a game while shooting 35 percent from three and 47% from the field with an ability to create off the dribble for himself and others, contributing five assists a game at his best. Adding that to a Warriors team that already has two stars that average over 25 points a game just seems like another positive addition to the puzzle, but we know those numbers will drastically change and his role on the team could change as well.
The Warriors have a history of playing with small lineups, more specifically the Death Lineup/Hampton 5, to keep versatility on the defensive end while still playing fast-paced on the offensive end. That’s what made big men JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney, who just re-signed with the team, so valuable. At 6’11 and 270 lbs., Boogie does not fit a fast tempo offense and does not have that lateral quickness/versatility defensively to keep up in a pick and pop game.
Due to the small lineups that the Warriors play pretty consistently with much success, the role of Boogie may come from an everyday starter to a role player on the bench that may or may not receive a lot of playing time, if any, depending the situations the opponents present. The situation may not look great, but it can be a good move for both parties.
Boogie can learn what it takes to win within a winning organization. The championship culture can help shape Boogie physically and mentally, he gives the Warriors a low post presence on both ends of the floor, which is something that can be beneficial when they have to play big lineups.
Another positive for the Warriors is the offensive talent Cousins provides in the half court. Putting him in a pick and roll with Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant can be lethal due to his dominant presence on the glass and his ability to stretch the defense by shooting the three, also providing a nice spark off the bench.
Not to mention that provides Boogie the ultimate opportunity to be himself emotionally on the court with some controlled guidance, especially being paired with Draymond Green and Durant, who were top 3 in technical fouls received last season and led by a coach, who is relaxed but also fired up when the situation is needed.
Being with the Warriors is a beneficial situation for Cousins, he will be working with a first-class medical staff, quality rehab and can really take his time with his comeback.
Boogie may not be the same person when he comes back, but when he does he can contribute to a championship team in a big way while potentially getting a championship under his belt and ultimately prepare himself for a big pay day in next year’s free agency period. But at the end of the day, it all starts and ends with Boogie’s approach to a foreign situation.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Chicago-based sports writer and broadcaster, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio