Surrounding LeBron James with shooters is a smart strategy, so it is no surprise the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in Reggie Bullock.
The 6-foot-7 wing was a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He has been a fixture in the starting lineup for the Detroit Pistons, averaging 30.7 minutes per night. But as the Pistons have plummeted away from playoff contention, contending teams have reached out about what it would take to pry him away from Detroit.
Tania Ganguli reported that the Lakers are one of those interested teams, though there has not been much momentum (via Los Angeles Times):
“So far Detroit hasn’t been very interested in moving him for what they’ve been offered. This is the last year of his deal and he’s making $2.5 million this year.”
Bullock is averaging 1.11 points per possession on jump shots this season. That ranks in the 85th percentile among all players in the NBA, per Synergy Sports. Last season, he averaged 1.24 PPP on jumpers, which ranked in the 97th percentile.
He has been particularly impressive on catch-and-shoot opportunities, scoring 6.1 points per game in this offense. Only three players (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Lauri Markkanen) have been better in that category this season.
Bullock could convert catch-and-shoot attempts easily when playing alongside James. Defenders zero in on James and have to account for him at all times, leaving his teammates open for quick catch-and-shoot looks.
As noted by Alex Regla, the Lakers currently rank last overall on catch-and-shoot attempts. This has been a major issue for Los Angeles. Entering this season, there was some hope that Josh Hart could thrive as a sharpshooter next to James, but Hart hasn’t lived up to expectations. Bullock would be perfect in this role and he’d immediately become the Lakers’ best option on catch-and-shoot plays.
Bullock was also one of the most explosive scorers on dribble handoffs last season. He scored 171 points on this play type, which ranked No. 6 overall in the NBA. No team has called fewer DHO’s than Los Angeles, but perhaps Bullock could help them add that offensive weapon to their arsenal.
The Detroit wing has a hot spot where he is lethal from three-point range: he was especially sharp on non-corner three-pointers, shooting 91-for-202 (45.0 percent) on these looks last season. Among the 158 players who had at least 140 attempts from this zone, not one was more accurate than Bullock.
As for the logistics of such a deal, things get a bit more complicated for both parties. Detroit would likely accept a late first-round pick in exchange for the 27-year-old wing, who is currently on an expiring contract.
NBA front office insider Bobby Marks described Bullock as one of the “most prized trade assets” for Detroit (via ESPN):
“He has been the most consistent player on the Pistons. At the minimum, Detroit can fetch multiple second-round picks (like Chicago did with Justin Holiday) or retain Bullock with the intent to re-sign him when he becomes a free agent.”
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that the Pistons have engaged the Memphis Grizzlies about a trade to land point guard Mike Conley. He noted Detroit would likely have to move a first-rounder and one of their “young wings” in such a deal.
If the Pistons part ways with either Luke Kennard or Stanley Johnson, they may not be as open to the idea of moving Bullock. They are particularly thin at this position and might overvalue Bullock strictly to field a respectable lineup.
Meanwhile for the trade to work fiscally, the only players that Los Angeles could send in a straight-up deal would be JaVale McGee (who is integral as a starting big) or young talents Hart, Ivica Zubac, Svi Mykhailiuk, Moritz Wagner or Isaac Bonga.
All of those seem unlikely and the Lakers would presumably be angling to trade Michael Beasley or Lance Stephenson. But they would have to take another contract back in such a deal. For all the complications, it might not be feasible – despite how good of a fit he would be on the team.
Author’s Note: Bullock was traded to the Lakers in exchange for Mykhailiuk on February 5, as first reported by Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson.