In 2020, the Lakers won the bubble and became champions for the first time in a decade. But a year ago, injuries, among other things, took them out of the running with a first-round exit. They have retooled the roster, keeping only three players from last season as they try and return to the top.
This year has a lot of expectations. Several ring-less players are now aboard, hoping this can be their chance. The roster is very intriguing but is good enough to possibly take down any other if they can just find ways to win every night in different ways.
Let’s break it down for L.A. and their season.
TO WIN TITLE: +400 (2ND)
TO WIN WEST: +170 (1ST)
TO WIN PACIFIC DIVISION +110 (1ST)
Bron and AD
The Lakers re-signed only one player last offseason, which is something you will very rarely see at any level of any sport. For the most part, players left in free agency, but a couple of trades were also made. Talen Horton-Tucker is the only FA that re-upped, but it is great to see him still on board.
This year’s team looks a lot like the Lakers of three years ago, in the sense that there is extreme roster turnover coming into a season. But, it is all about two guys here. LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James switched to #6 for the upcoming year, so perhaps he can channel his Miami self to lead to having a big season.
AD was hurt for a good chunk of last season, and they sorely missed him. The team was up 2-1 against the Suns before he got hurt, and his absence cost them a chance at making any noise. But, he’s here for the long-term and will likely be playing center this time, so plenty of opportunities will be there.
The way these two stars play will determine everything for the Lakers. Sure, they brought in Russell Westbrook, among many big-name guys. But, he hasn’t shown the ability to do it alone. He has to follow the lead of the top two.
Bringing in Reinforcements
Pretty much the entire Lakers roster is new, however, a number of players have actually played for L.A. before. Kent Bazemore, Trevor Ariza, and Wayne Ellington had past tenures here. And Dwight Howard + Rajon Rondo each won a title with the squad two seasons ago before heading to new teams and now flocking back ever so quickly.
The team also got Malik Monk from Charlotte, who could prove to be a tremendous scorer for them. They have Kendrick Nunn from Miami, who had some marvelous efforts in past years. They signed DeAndre Jordan to give them height and a lob threat at the basket.
And of course, they brought in Carmelo Anthony, who has been best friends with LeBron James for a long time. This is a move that was likely many years in the making, and it will be really fun to watch them share the court together in the NBA for the first time.
Lastly, they added Russ, who expects to come in and play a big role. He has been a triple-double machine for a long time, and broke the all-time record last year, while subsequently setting a new benchmark for the most in a single season. He and Bradley Beal took a mediocre Wizards team and brought them out of the play-in and into the postseason.
Will all of this be enough to help them lift the title? It very much remains to be seen. But they will definitely have a chance to compete, and it doesn’t hurt that the oddsmakers have a soft spot for them.