Season Preview: Western Conference Challengers-Los Angeles Lakers
The LA Lakers have not made the playoffs for six years. Last summer they signed LeBron James, a man who had almost single handedly brought the Cleveland Cavaliers to four straight NBA finals, the whole league expected at least a return to the playoffs but instead James played the least amount of regular season games in his entire career and the Lakers finished in 10th place in the West.
Unsurprisingly this off-season has seen whole sale changes including a near entirely new roster and coaching staff. The major additions were Anthony Davies from the Pelicans & Danny Green, who was signed as a free agent. They couldn't quite get Kawhi to join but this Lakers team are still in a great place to return to the playoffs, but just that would be seen as a failure for this team.
LeBron to return to MVP level:
James only played 55 games last season in a struggling team but still averaged 27 PPG 8 RPG & 8 APG, pretty impressive for a guy in his sixteenth season but now entering his 17th campaign King James is as determined as ever to show he is the greatest player of all time. Even the greats need a little help and Lebron will get that this season in the form of Anthony Davies, he will not be the primary scorer for the first time in his career and will even likely be playing the point guard position for LA. I believe this transition will allow James to return to the top of the game, he went one year without making the off season, largely down to injury, and the league is forgetting just how good this guy is. He is the greatest of all time and this season he will cement his legacy in the minds of the entire NBA.
AD's defence as important as his offence:
Anthony Davies is the second star Lebron desperately needed in LA. 'The Brow' will be the primary scorer for this Lakers team but he will need to be playing at the highest level defensively is this Lakers team are to top the West. Davies was All NBA Defensive First Team in 2018 and twice All Defensive Second Team, he was also the blocks leader in 2014, 2015 & 2018, so there is no question his commitment and ability to defend. Lebron James is not the defender he once was and AD will have to pick up the slack and with Frank Vogel being a very defense minded coach, the Brow could have his sights set on being the Defensive Player of the Year. If he can just be in that conversation then this LA team will go far.
Rondo must be as aggressive as ever:
Rajon Rondo is not the player he once was but he can still add a lot to this Laker team if he plays aggressive basketball. During a pre-season game against the Brooklyn Nets, Rondo was pushing the ball up the court and working quality shooting opportunities for himself and others. He finished the game with 18 points and six assists, now he wont put those numbers up ever night off the bench but if he plays with that aggression and pro-active attitude then he will be major asset for this Lakers offence.
Championship or Bust:
They will never admit it unless they win the title this season but this Lakers team has been built to win it all ASAP. Lebron knows his flame is not far from burning out and they traded the makings of future dynasty to get in Anthony Davies, this team need to win now and the pressure will be on from the first tip on Tuesday night, but pressure is something great players thrive under.
AD and LeBron appear to be a match made in heaven (but they will need to stay healthy) and they certainly have enough quality in their supporting cast to have a big season. It may not be all fireworks during the regular season but this team is built to go deep in the playoffs.