Ah, the cost of a ring. To attain the pinnacle accolade in the sport of basketball, no price is too much.
Since acquiring LeBron James in 2018, the Los Angeles Lakers have put forth a curious case as to the ramifications of going all-in. It was all put into perspective this offseason when the team found itself chained to its decisions over the years. The expectations could not be any lower for a team that just two seasons ago were the champions, but perhaps that is exactly what the Lakers need.
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The front office did realize the conundrum they found themselves in. Their plan dating back to 2018 had not gone quite how they envisioned. At 37 years old, James continues to be the best player on the team with injuries and lack of consistency holding back star Anthony Davis. The younger core in Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker has failed to live up to expectations.
Most importantly, the acquisition of Russell Westbrook last season turned out to be a grave mistake as he failed to fit into the necessary mold that a team built around James requires. Westbrook, as expected, exercised his player option for the 2022-23 season, further restricting the Lakers’ cap space.
A series of misfortunes entrapped the Lakers organization, limiting their options with the clock against them. The moves made had to be mindful of the season ahead while also building a more sustainable roster.
Circumstances in mind, the Lakers took the right steps forward, trading Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson for a bonafide winner in Patrick Beverley. The rest of the moves revolved around untapped potential. The likes of Troy Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, and Juan Toscano-Anderson all have shown glimpses of brilliance on both sides of the court, contributing to winning basketball. The return of Damian Jones is a welcome addition to the side as well. Thomas Bryant is perhaps one of the most pivotal signings for the Lakers as he has already shown promise and delivered in the past for Washington.
There were changes made in the coaching department as coach Darvin Ham was brought in. Early glimpses of his approach and mentality have given optimism to fans of the organization.
The Starting Five
PG – Russell Westbrook
SG – Lonnie Walker IV
SF – LeBron James
PF – Anthony Davis
C – Thomas Bryant
While the team will be spearheaded by its duo of James and Davis, the lineup around them is quite malleable. The likes of Jones and Kendrick Nunn could be seen as the starters. The same goes for Austin Reaves, who had a stellar first season. At the tail end of last season, there were signs that suggested that Westbrook might be able to adjust and accommodate for the way the team runs through James and Davis.
In an ideal sense, the team could use the three-and-D ability of Brown Jr. It also remains to be seen how available and consistent Davis can be. Lonnie Walker had spurts of offensive brilliance with the Spurs and could potentially add the energy the side needs.
There is an interesting mix of talent on the bench for the Lakers. Beverley can bring the necessary defensive mentality off the bench while the scoring ability of Reaves and Brown could shine. Jones has the potential to be a dynamic scorer as well. Toscano-Anderson could well replicate his days with the Warriors, bringing the hustle and contributing to winning.
This could go terribly wrong. A new head coach with clashing egos in the locker room with Westbrook and Beverly, an aging LeBron, an unavailable Davis, and a youth core yet to find their place on the team.
It has all the makings of an utter disaster.
But isn’t that what everyone expects? The Lakers sold their proverbial soul to bring a championship back to the organization and now find themselves in the middle of nowhere.
Maybe that’s where their strength lies. There is no doubting the talent that their stars possess. If it all clicks, the Lakers could well be a force, especially in the playoffs.
Things could break right for them, and if they do, not many are prepared for what they could be.
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