Lakers looking for fast start to season!
With LeBron James seeking vengeance and Anthony Davis elevating his game, the Lakers are looking to enter the season hitting on all cylinders
After a summer of dreaming just how good the LeBron James and Anthony Davis Lakers might be, last night’s game had to be a wonderfully gratifying, rewarding, and encouraging sign for Lakers fans hoping for better times.
The Lakers were hitting on all cylinders in last night’s 126–93 thumping of the remnants of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty, blistering the Staples Center nets while shooting 60% from field and 50% from beyond the arc and holding the Warriors to just 36% from the field and 21% from deep. The Lakers also dominated the Warriors in rebounding and playmaking, winning the battle of the boards 46–34 and out-assisting the Dubs 33–10.
While the Warriors were obviously outmanned, the Lakers frankly looked unstoppable. After his first summer off in 14 years, LeBron James looked like a superstar in his prime rather than one fighting against Father Time. In 25 minutes, he scored 18 points, dished out 11 assists, grabbed 4 boards, made 6 of 9 shots from the field for 75%, 1 of 2 from deep for 50%, and 5 of 6 from the line for 83%, all while posting a team high plus/minus of 30.
What was even more impressive was LeBron looked to be quicker, faster, and stronger than the last few years. While he may have been listed in the lineup card as a small forward, he was clearly the Lakers’ point guard. He not only brought the ball up the court most of the time but didn’t shy away from guarding D’Angelo Russell or whomever the Warriors had in the game as their point guard. It was like watching a 5-years younger LeBron James.
There’s been a lot of negative hype in the media about how Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo have now surpassed LeBron James as the best player on the planet but it’s looking like all that hype could be premature. The LeBron James we saw playing for the Lakers last night looked like a superstar in his prime eager to prove he is still the best and looking for revenge against pretenders who think he’s not able to defend his throne.
As if that were not enough to send Lakers fans into a frantic frothing frenzy, Anthony Davis looks like a completely different and more rounded player in purple and gold than he ever looked playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. In 28 minutes, he scored 8 points, grabbed 10 boards, recorded 1 steal and 2 blocks, and dished out an amazing 8 assists. This is for a superstar who averaged 2 assists per game his first six years and just 4 per game last year.
AD’s elite playmaking ability adds another major dimension to his value on the floor as a Laker superstar and clearly elevates his chances of becoming a legitimate candidate to win both the league MVP as well as DPOY awards. His passing is not a one-game fluke either as he’s shown great vision as a playmaker with the ability to see over the defense and make the right pass, whether its to a back door cutter, open 3-point shooter, or lob to a dunker.
There was a lot of criticism in the media that the Lakers gave up too much in the trade for Anthony Davis, especially considering he could conceivably leave them in free agency next summer turning the trade into a disaster. Watching LeBron and AD playing together last night, the obvious love and chemistry they both feel, and how they as a dynamic duo impact the game and make those around them better make all those worries seem silly.
But the Lakers are much more than just LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The job GM Rob Pelinka and his front office team did surrounding LeBron and AD cannot be minimized as the team they built is coming to fruition. Rob Pelinka’s goal in building the Lakers’ current roster was to surround his two superstars with elite defenders and shooters and right now it looks like he has done exactly that based on what we have seen so far this preseason.
The Lakers look like they could be a top-five team in defense and shooting. The likely starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee looks to be an elite defensive fivesome. Avery Bradley has been exceptional as an on ball defender as has Danny Green, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee have been elite protecting the rim, and LeBron James has accepted AD’s challenge to play tough defense.
With JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard manning the center position, the Lakers desperately need the rest of their lineups to be loaded with shooters and Pelinka did a great job recruiting players who can fill it up from deep. Last night, the Lakers shot 15 of 30 from deep, including 4 of 5 for Avery Bradley, 4 of 5 for Quinn Cook, 2 of 2 for Jared Dudley, 2 of 4 for Danny Green, 2 of 4 for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and 1 of 2 for LeBron James.
Of course, preseason is just preseason and the Warriors are no longer an elite NBA team, however, it’s not difficult to see that the Lakers are going to be a bruising juggernaut at both ends of the court if they can stay healthy. The combo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis has the potential to be the best superstar duo in the league and the deep and diverse roster is filled with the elite defenders and shooters the Lakers will need to win a title.
The path to their seventeenth NBA championship is going to be a long and winding road filled with more legitimate contenders than the league has seen in a long time but if the Lakers can stay healthy, they could win it all.
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