Falling in Love with this Lakers Team!

Why this version of the Los Angeles Lakers is like a sudden oasis in the middle of the desert for desperately thirsty purple and gold fans

The difference between this Los Angeles Lakers team and the ones we’ve seen over the last six years is the difference between hope and hype, truth and fiction, facts and lies, reality and optimism, and love and infatuation.

Yes, it’s early and the sample size is small but there are nevertheless signs what we’re seeing in this version of the Los Angeles Lakers is for real and not the overworked, overly hopeful hyperbole of a blind, drunken fan base. The biggest signs buoying the gut feelings we’re watching a championship caliber team is how the Lakers are playing, how LeBron James and Anthony Davis have gelled, and most importantly how great our defense has been.

I’ve been optimistic about this Lakers team from the day Rob Pelinka took over and focused first on completing a trade for Anthony Davis and second on rebuilding the roster around potentially elite defenders and shooters. The methodical and sound strategy Pelinka deployed in building this roster gave me confidence we weren’t repeating the impulsive almost Trumpian mistakes Magic Johnson made building last year’s meme team roster.

The Lakers needed three things to be a legitimate championship contender. They needed a second superstar to go with LeBron, proven defenders and shooters instead of youth, and a veteran head coach to make it all work. While the shooting’s still a work in progress, Pelinka’s trade for Anthony Davis, signing of veteran defenders in Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Dwight Howard, and hiring of Frank Vogel as head coach were elite moves.

The result has been a team that not only has the best record in the league but just as importantly the best defense in the league. The Lakers have the #1 defensive rating and also lead the league in blocked shots per game. While it’s still early and the sample size is arguably very small, the Lakers’ 96.5 defensive rating is the best since the Spurs 98.2 in 2015–16 and their 8.0 blocks per game is the best since the Thunders’ 8.2 in 2011–12.

Aside from their impressive 7–1 record and seven-game winning streak, what’s won the hearts of Lakers fans and media pundits is the dominating defense that’s been behind the wins and makes their success sustainable. The trade for Davis, signing of Green, Bradley, and Howard, renewed commitment to defense by James, and hiring of Vogel have transformed the Lakers into what could be the best NBA defensive team in years.

The Lakers will still have to show they can play elite defense the entire season and avoid serious injuries to any of their key defenders like James, Davis, Bradley, Green, or Howard to survive and win the championship. But the team’s commitment to playing tough defense with has ten of the fourteen players on the active roster recording individual defensive ratings under 100 has already won the hearts and souls of eager Lakers fans.

The two unlikely storylines that embody the love Lakers fans have for this team are how a rejuvenated LeBron James and resurrected Dwight Howard are now playing like the elite All-Defensive players they were five years ago. After years of taking off plays on the defensive end, LeBron has become a force and, after almost playing his way out of the league, Dwight’s finally matured and willingly accepted his role as an elite defender and rebounder.

For diehard Lakers fan like myself and fellow bloggers at Lakerholics.Net, falling in love with this team has been like winning the lottery or suddenly watching the clouds of the last six seasons part and seeing the sun again. Basking in the warm bright light of this Lakers team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis brings back memories of when Magic and Kareem or Kobe and Shaq ruled basketball and the NBA was our personal playground.

As a friend said to me, it’s suddenly fun again to be a Lakers fan. So I invite everybody who wants to share in the fun, excitement, and love for this team to come visit us and join in the live conversation at Lakerholics.Net. There’s no better time than right now for diehard Los Angeles Lakers fans to share their personal takes and congratulatory high fives and fist bumps and celebrate why we’ve fallen in love with this wonderful Lakers team.

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