One of the most accomplished NBA franchises hasn’t seen the playoffs in five years and is two years removed from having a proper superstar on the team after Kobe Bryant retired. This is why LeBron James’ arrival brought so much hope to the fans, who are hoping their team can be a title contender once again. It can, but just not this year.
The biggest issue with the Lakers, constructed as they are at the moment, is that they don’t have a “go-to player” besides James. They don’t have another player who can take over the game in certain moments and carry the team to the win. Lonzo Ball couldn’t hit threes and jumpers consecutively if his life depended on it, Kyle Kuzma is a catch and shoot type of player, and Brandon Ingram will get to that level in a couple of years. All their most significant competitors in Western Conference – Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets – have two or more such players.
Now, Los Angeles Lakers have a terrific mix of young players and veterans and that is their strength. However, the Lakers’ young stars are all projected to start, and veterans will warm the bench. With teams who are thinking about contending for a title is another way around, since experience is crucial when the game is on the line. And once again, LeBron James as great as he is, can’t do it all by himself like last season. He isn’t in the Eastern Conference anymore.
But both LeBron James and Lakers organization know all of this, and they are not expecting much from this season. The plan is to get James comfortable, see where they stand with the young players and determine which veterans deserve to stick around next season. Because its the next season when these new Lakers with James plan on to make a push to get back in NBA Finals again. This is of course if they manage to land some of the 2019 big free agents like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, or maybe even Klay Thompson.
So, where will the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James end up this year? Probably somewhere between 6th and 8th seed. James can get you that even in the Western Conference. Then the Lakers will face an early playoff exit and focus on 2019-2020.
But don’t worry Lakers’ fans, your team is in a perfect place to be good for at least five years or even more if LeBron decides he will break all the longevity records. That is what matters the most, right?