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By Neil Greenberg Neil Greenberg Reporter analyzing advanced sports statistics for The Washington Post Email Bio Follow June 17 at 10:34 AM The trade that has been hinted at for months finally hit the news cycle when the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to acqui

The trade that has been hinted at for months finally hit the news cycle when the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to acquire three-time all-NBA forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks, including the fourth selection in the 2019 draft, scheduled for Thursday night at Barclays Center in New York.

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The move gives the Lakers another superstar to pair with LeBron James and puts them at the forefront of the Western Conference, which is wide open after the Golden State Warriors were weakened by injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in this year’s NBA Finals. It also made them the current betting favorites for next year’s championship.

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The Lakers opened at 20-1 odds to win the 2020 NBA title in May but are now 3-1 favorites at the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, the Warriors have declined from 7-4 favorites to 12-1 odds

[ LaVar Ball guarantees Lakers will never win another title after trading Lonzo Ball ]

The short term benefits for the Lakers are obvious: James now has a bona fide superstar sharing the court with him, one that perfectly complements James’s skill set. But before people start sizing up their Lakers championship gear, they may want to take a closer look. L.A.’s current roster, while helped by Davis, needs some more work before this team is worthy of favorite status

Davis was one of 14 players (minimum 1,500 minutes played in 2018-19) who averaged over 35 points per 100 possessions last year and his ability to finish near the rim is among the best in the NBA. The 6-foot-10, 253-pound center scored 1.4 points per possession around the basket in 2018-19, placing him in the 96th percentile of NBA players — defenders will no longer be able to key on James knowing Davis is lurking near the paint

Davis and Kyle Kuzma also give James two capable perimeter shooters, further spreading the floor for James to attack the rim. And if he can get a clear lane you can expect him to drive to the basket. If that path is taken away, James is equally adept at finding the open man behind the arc. Davis shot over 33 percent from three-point range and was 39 for 106 (37 percent) on wide-open threes last season

Defensively, Davis held opponents to 0.9 points per possession when tabbed as the primary defender last season (79th percentile) with an ability to guard ballhandlers on the pick-and-roll (68th percentile), shooters on the perimeter (56th percentile) or players in isolation (95th percentile). Davis has also led the league in blocked shots per game three times (2013-14, 2015-16 and 2017-18) and ended the regular season with 2.4 blocks per game in 2018-19

Over the last three seasons, Anthony Davis has:

* more points than Steph Curry or Kevin Durant

* more rebs than Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid

* more steals than LeBron James or Klay Thompson

* more blocks than Andre Drummond or Giannis Antetokounmpo

* higher FT% than Bradley Beal

— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) June 15, 2019 But there are some concerns with the Lakers’ current roster as well, namely a lack of depth throughout the rest of the roster, a problem that makes L.A. very questionable favorites for next year’s title

After the team says goodbye to Ball, Ingram and Hart, only James, Kuzma and rookie Jemerrio Jones will have logged 20 minutes or more per game for the team in 2018-19. It’s possible Jones’s contract, which is not guaranteed , is waived to make salary cap room for someone else. Still, it doesn’t look like the Lakers will have enough cap space to add a third max-contract player with at least seven years of experience, which current projections estimate to be valued at $32.7 million for the 2019-20 season. That makes adding another superstar like Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard fiscally difficult, if not impossible

The Lakers will have either $27.8M in room or $32.5M in room after this deal. All depends on the timing and if Davis waives his $4M trade bonus

— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 15, 2019 The current lineup of James, Davis, Kuzma, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga, playing starter minutes and games, would be outscored by 7.1 net points per 100 possessions while they are on the court, according to their box score plus-minus numbers from 2018-19 . That’s roughly on par with the performance of the 22-60 Chicago Bulls (minus-8.3 net rating) from last season. If the Lakers are able to upgrade at the point guard position with free agent Kemba Walker, who is eligible for a “supermax” contract ($221 million over five years) if he stays with the Charlotte Hornets, that would boost their starting lineup’s net rating to plus-10 points per 100 possessions, a number that would contend with the best in the league. But as noted earlier, Walker would have to sacrifice a big payday to accomplish this

[ First LeBron James, now Anthony Davis: The time to pity the Lakers has passed ]

It’s more likely the Lakers sign a guard like free agents Derrick Rose, Patrick Beverly, Danny Green, J.J. Redick or Seth Curry, although none could be classified as a third member of a “big three.” Those players would project the Lakers starting five would outscore opponents by approximately three or four net points per 100 possessions, comparable to teams like the Indiana Pacers (48-34), Oklahoma City Thunder (49-33) and Denver Nuggets (54-28) of last season. Those three teams were all very good, but would not be regarded with the same favor as the returning top teams in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. Los Angeles needs to do more work if it wants to earn its status as a true title favorite for 2020

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Neil Greenberg Neil Greenberg is a staff writer with The Washington Post whose beat is sports analytics. His analysis and insight can be found in the sports section, where he covers the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB as well as college football and basketball. Follow

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