To make a proper judgment, it’s important to have a sufficient sample size. This applies to the NBA as well. In order to get an accurate assessment of players, a large enough sample size is necessary as players can have hot or cold streaks.
For instance, take the case of Rui Hachimura who played for the Washington Wizards earlier. He had a poor performance then. However, after joining the Los Angeles Lakers, he displayed the potential of being a star player.
It is difficult to predict how Hachimura will appear in 2023-24. If he fails to reach his potential, the Lakers may trade him for Jonas Valanciunas at the following year’s deadline.
Every NBA team should be worried about sample size and whether they have enough data to make conclusions. This becomes even more important at the deadline. For instance, if a team has been underperforming so far, can they conclusively say that something isn’t working after only half a season? On the other hand, if a team has been doing well going into the deadline, does that mean they have what it takes to compete for an NBA title? During the 2022-23 season, the Lakers traded Russell Westbrook and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Is it possible that they will make significant changes again this year?
The Lakers cannot trade Rui Hachimura because they recently extended his contract, so any potential deal involving him and Valanciunas would have to happen at the deadline. Hachimura is younger than Valanciunas, and if he is playing well and contributing to the Lakers’ success, they may not be interested in trading him for Valanciunas.
Suppose the Lakers are having trouble and Hachimura’s 2022-23 season wasn’t as successful as expected, then Valanciunas’ fit with the team may become interesting. He has the ability to provide floor spacing and maximize LeBron James’ playmaking, while Anthony Davis can compensate for his lack of defensive prowess. This deal could work for the Lakers if they want to dominate with size, but would it also make sense for the Pelicans?
It’s possible that Valanciunas may be traded before the deadline as there are rumors that the Pelicans are looking for a more versatile defensive big man. This is because Valanciunas’ poor lateral mobility can sometimes make him a defensive liability.
The current deal does not provide a replacement for him. You might be wondering why the Pelicans are interested in Hachimura, given his underperformance in 2023-24. However, the level of his underperformance is a determining factor. If Hachimura has been decent but the Lakers are struggling, the Pelicans might find him appealing. They would get a young wing on a budget-friendly, long-term contract and can seek a defensive big man later. The decision depends on Hachimura’s performance in the limited sample size available.
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