Why the Lakers should keep an eye on Colin Castleton instead of dismissing him amidst Christian Wood and Bismack Biyombo rumors | Catch the latest news, scores, highlights, stats, and rumors
The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to several big men in recent trade rumors, including Christian Wood of the Houston Rockets and Bismack Biyombo of the Charlotte Hornets. While these players could certainly provide some much-needed frontcourt depth for the Lakers, they shouldn’t discount the potential of Colin Castleton. Castleton, a 6’11” big man out of the University of Florida, has been making waves in the college basketball world with his impressive play on both ends of the floor.
Castleton has shown great promise as a shot-blocker and rim protector, averaging 2.2 blocks per game in his sophomore season at Florida. He also possesses good instincts and timing when it comes to defending the pick-and-roll, which could greatly benefit the Lakers’ defensive schemes. On the offensive end, Castleton has a developing post game and has shown the ability to finish around the rim with both hands. While he still needs to work on his outside shooting and overall scoring consistency, his raw talent and potential make him an intriguing option for the Lakers to consider.
Overall, while Christian Wood and Bismack Biyombo may be more established big men in the NBA, the Lakers shouldn’t discount the potential impact that Colin Castleton could have on their team. With his shot-blocking abilities and emerging offensive skills, Castleton could provide the Lakers with the much-needed depth and versatility they are seeking in the frontcourt. With some development and seasoning, Castleton has the potential to become a valuable asset for the Lakers both this season and in the future.
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The Los Angeles Lakers are close to wrapping what has been a very successful offseason. The Lakers managed to retain key contributors like Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves while adding the likes of Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes and rookie first-round pick Jalen Hood-Schifino.
Assuming that LeBron James returns for the 2023-24 season and Anthony Davis can stay healthy, Los Angeles should have a championship-caliber roster.
But, Rob Pelinka and Co. are not done.
“We are actively in the market to add another big,” Pelinka told reporters during Sunday’s summer league game against the Charlotte Hornets.
According to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, the Lakers are considering using “more two-big” lineups this season, a strategy that helped L.A. win a title during its 2019-20 campaign. Presumably, this would involve having a dedicated center on the court with Davis at the power forward position.
“I think adding Jaxson Hayes was key to that,” Pelinka said, per Buha. “I think Jaxson, much like maybe Dwight Howard in that stretch for us: big body, rim protector, active roller.”
Pelinka also noted, per Buha, that the Lakers would prefer to add a center with a little bit different skill set than the one Hayes will bring. He discussed what Hayes can add to the team during Friday’s summer league game against the Golden State Warriors (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll):
a big kid, rim protector, plays with a high level of energy and he’s
also a really good screen setter, so when you have guards like D’Angelo
Russell that really want to operate in the pick-and-roll and have Austin
Reaves as a secondary ballhandler, we thought Jaxson would be a good
fit with those guys with the way he plays.”
The Lakers do have options.
Back on July 1, Buha reported that Mo Bamba—who has since signed with the Philadelphia 76ers—and Tristan Thompson were under consideration to return. On Sunday, Buha reported that free agents Christian Wood and Bismack Biyombo were also under consideration.
Wood and Biyombo are different players, but both could fit with L.A.’s ideal strategy. Biyombo would be a strong defensive option, while Wood could help tremendously as a scoring threat in an offensive lineup featuring Davis.
While the Lakers are weighing their external options, though, they can’t forget about two-way free agent Colin Castleton, who signed with L.A. after the draft.
Castleton isn’t your typical undrafted rookie. The 23-year-old played for four seasons at Michigan and Florida and possesses an advanced skill set that most young bigs do not.
During summer league play, Castleton—who had 21 points 14 rebounds and three assists on Sunday—has been a steady highlight for the Lakers. He and two-way guard/forward D’Moi Hodge have arguably outplayed Hood-Schifino and second-round pick Maxwell Lewis.
At 6’11” and well over 200 pounds—Florida listed him t 250—Castleton could certainly help give L.A. a size advantage in specific lineup rotations. However, as
Buha recently explained, Castleton brings more to the proverbial table.
“He’s more than just a big body—he’s an incredibly skilled
offensive player,” Buha wrote while noting that Castleton has showcased
“advanced traits and instincts that only the best big-man passers have” during the summer league.
Castleton has demonstrated tremendous court awareness on plays like this one:
Naturally, there’s a big difference between summer league competition and what Castleton would face at the NBA level, but his size and skill set should make for a quick transition. Castleton should be able to contribute as a deep rotational player early and often.
As a starter at Florida, Castleton shined on both ends of the court, averaging 16.0 points, 2.7 assists, three blocks and 7.7 rebounds last season. Los Angeles should have little trouble finding a valuable rotational role for him as a rookie.
None of this means that the Lakers shouldn’t pursue a quality veteran like Wood or Biyombo, but it does mean that L.A. has another option for its center rotation.
It’s an option that the Lakers, and specifically, coach Darvin Ham, must be willing to develop and utilize this season if they hope to ride a deep big-man rotation to a championship.