The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to make a big splash in 2018. Big names such as LeBron James and/or Paul George are alleged targets. But how about filling in the middle?

The Lakers do have Brook Lopez right now, someone they acquired in the D’Angelo Russell trade. The problem is that the 29-year-old center is set to become a free agent in 2018 and likely test the open market. If so, Lopez’ potential departure leaves a gaping hole in center position which LA would have to plug. Would Noel be a fit?

Noel can complement the young guns

The Lakers have a solid young core, players that are expected to flourish.

The list includes Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Lonzo Ball.

However, the Lakers will need veteran experience to improve their chances against other seasoned teams. Should James and/or George join the franchise, some of these neophytes may have to go. Some could be traded for vets or even future assets in the form of draft picks.

In the case of Noel, some of these players could even be traded off by the Lakers for him. Assuming James and/or George sign up, players like Clarkson, Nance Jr. or even Randle could end up being shipped for the 23-year-old. But would it be a wise move?

The state of Nerlens Noel

Noel has been plagued by injuries in recent years. But when healthy, the former University of Kentucky Wildcat has proven to be reliable especially on defense.

Seeing how the Lakers could use another big man who can protect the rim and collar rebounds, Noel could be a sensible target. Hence, expect the Lakers to keep a close eye on Noel – potentially one of many center-forwards they may go after next summer.

Will he be better than Lopez?

If one is to compare Noel and Lopez, the latter seems to offer something more.

Unlike Noel, the 29-year-old has proven what he can do around the paint.

In scenarios where the Lakers end up with a half-court set, opposing teams would need to pay attention to the 7-footer. This helps spread the floor for other players on the court, opportunities to drive or take jump shots from the outside.

Noel is more of a role player though all that could change this 2017-18 NBA season.

It all depends on how he would be utilized by Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle.

Noel signed a one-year deal worth $4.1 million with the Mavs, the Bleacher Report reported. This means he looms as an affordable alternative in case Lopez walks in 2018. But before that, the 6-foot-11 center-forward needs to prove he can stay healthy and take his game to a higher level.