I get it the Brooklyn Nets almost took out the Milwaukee Bucks without Kyrie Irving and James Harden who was no more than 70 percent of his actual self and in all likelyhood Giannis maybe pushes that team to 7 games if they were fully healthy but basketball is a team sport and names are just names. The Brooklyn Nets have a ton of big names from Irving,Durant,Harden,Griffin, and Aldridge but will they be the best team in the NBA? We shall see the season is upon us and preseason has just begun.
On to the Los Angeles Lakers who brought back Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard from the championship team in the bubble and also shocked the world by trading for Russell Westbrook while also bringing in former superstar Carmelo Anthony. As a LeBron James fan I’ve been hearing it for the past 10-11 years how LeBron James has been ruining the NBA by forming superteams but this is the first real superteam he has had in my honest opinion and I see him capitalizing this season as he is both mentally and physically ready to go for championship number 5. It always felt like he carried the Miami Heat on his shoulders and he made them the elite team they were.
No one could ever convince me Kevin Love was ever a superstar in the NBA even if he averaged a whopping 26 points and 13 rebounds per game in Minnesota and Kyrie and Love were both benched in the first half against the Indiana Pacers in the 2017 NBA playoffs due to their horrid defense in the first round. Sure Love had a crucial moment defending Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and LeBron does not win a championship without Kyrie if not for his Game 7 heroics but that team never felt super to me their highest win total was 57 wins in a 4 year span. This Laker team boast not only a big 3 of Westbrook,LeBron, and AD but also 3 other hall of famers in Rondo,Carmelo, and Howard now that’s what I call super even if Howard,Melo, and Rondo are no longer at their peak physically due to age.
Rondo’s comments caught my attention, he mentioned wisdom which is essential in life and everyone on the team is leaving their egos at the door. We once wondered if Melo and Howard would ever realize they were no longer top 10 players in the NBA and most people would look at Westbrook and believe anywhere he goes losing is bound to happen. They’ve criticized Westbrook for chasing triple doubles and boxing out his own former teammates for rebounds but I believe Westbrook will finally figure it out this coming season. He has never been around this much talent and I just believe LeBron can make it work with anyone, watching how JR Smith cleaned his act up in Cleveland and helped the Cavaliers capture the 2016 title I think Westbrook is LeBron’s mini project.
JR Smith always had perfect tools for a shooting guard, he had the size,athleticism,shooting ability, and was very good at getting his own offense. He became a disciplined defender and more efficient scorer in Cleveland the same could happen for Westbrook if he chooses to buy in. Westbrook is a big guard with elite athleticism and an excellent play-maker, he just needs to become more efficient scoring the basketball and realize he no longer has to worry about carrying a team. If you watched LeBron in Miami and in second go round in Cleveland it always seemed like the moment he hit the bench his teams would struggle I don’t believe that will be the case with this team because Westbrook knows how to carry an offense better than Wade and Kyrie could.
That probably raised an eye-brow but I think so long Westbrook is out there with Davis or Melo LeBron can rest with ease and not see the Lakers fall behind during games this season. The key for the Lakers is you want to be able to chip away at deficits even with LeBron not being on the court and that is where I feel Westbrook will be most valuable for the Lakers. In a way Westbrook extends LeBron’s championship window because assuming he remains in Los Angeles beyond this season LeBron could load manage and be well rested for at least 2 more title runs. We can go back to Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals and if you watch that game closely you’d see how the Cavaliers were unable to keep a lead when LeBron hit the bench, Kyrie Irving was mis-firing left and right and not making plays, Kevin Love turning the ball over and the Cavaliers defense was scorched by Curry and Durant to finish the first half.
Not only will this Laker team be able to compete and stay in games when LeBron hits the bench but they’ll also be formidable defensively. And yes I am aware the Lakers no longer have Caldwell-Pope and Caruso who were essential to the Lakers’s perimeter defense over the past 2 seasons but they still boast Anthony Davis who is arguably the best defender in the game and LeBron engaged on defense is still highly impactful. Westbrook,Rondo,Tucker,Ariza,Howard , and Jordan are all above average defenders as well so the Lakers will still boast a top 10 defense along with what should be a top 5 offense this coming season that is championship level stuff period.
To conclude I believe it will be a special season for the Lakers and also for LeBron’s illustrious career. Most feel he changed his jersey number to 6 because he wants to capture 6 titles and put an end to the GOAT debate between him and Michael Jordan once and for all, he says the number 6 means a lot to him so we shall see what the backend of LeBron’s career will look like over the next 3-4 years before he hangs them up. The pressure is on for LeBron James even if he has nothing else left to prove in his career, even if he never gets that 6th title the timing is so perfect for another one that catching Kareem for the scoring record could be the icing on the cake as he looks to strengthen his case for being the best to ever do it. The Lakers trusted LeBron’s judgement on the buildup of this team and I believe they will reap the benefits of trusting one of the greatest minds to ever pick up a basketball, till next time.