The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off a disappointing 2018-19 season, but a more encouraging offseason in which they were able to trade for Anthony Davis and land important depth pieces such as Danny Green, Jared Dudley and Dwight Howard.
This upcoming campaign will be absolutely vital for both the immediate and long-term future of the team, as Davis has the ability to opt out of his contract and enter free agency next summer if, for whatever reason, he were to be unhappy.
If things go smoothly for L.A., that shouldn’t be an issue. However, if things go south, losing Davis after the haul they gave up to acquire him, could prove devastating.
STAYING: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo.
ADDED: Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dallas), Avery Bradley (Memphis), Devontae Cacok (UNC Wilmington), Jordan Caroline (Nevada), Quinn Cook (Golden State), DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State), Troy Daniels (Phoenix), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Jared Dudley (Brooklyn), Danny Green (Toronto), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Dwight Howard (Washington), Demetrius Jackson (Philadelphia), Zach Norvell (Gonzaga).
GONE: Lonzo Ball (New Orleans), Isaac Bonga (Washington), Reggie Bullock (New York), Tyson Chandler (Houston), Josh Hart (New Orleans), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans), Jemerrio Jones (Washington), Mike Muscala (Oklahoma City), Lance Stephenson (Liaoning), Moritz Wagner (Washington), Johnathan Williams (Maccabi Rishon LeZion).
STRENGTHS: The top of their roster can compete with any in the league … LeBron James and Davis as the headlining 1-2 punch with Kyle Kuzma as the third piece is about as loaded as you can get … James is still one of the very best players in basketball; Davis is among the most impactful two-way big men in the Association; and Kuzma has great potential as a floor-spacing, bucket-getting power forward … They’ve also done a solid job of filling out the rest of the roster around their two superstars with players with at least some sort of winning pedigree … Green and Dudley were fantastic complementary additions – two capable outside shooters, the former of which has experience on multiple championship teams, and picking up Howard after DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending injury could prove to be a worthwhile gamble … The Lakers ranked 13th in point-stopping efficiency last year, a number that should get even stingier this season with a defensive specialist at head coach in Frank Vogel, along with the addition of Davis.
WEAKNESSES: The point-guard position could be considered a bit questionable, with just Rajon Rondo (turning 34 during this upcoming season), Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso manning the floor-general spot … But considering the playmaking duties that will be thrust on LeBron, and Rondo/Cook’s championship experience, that should be enough to make their lack of elite depth there less noticeable … The team’s overall age could also be a problem … As of right now, before rosters have gotten trimmed down, Los Angeles boasts the second-oldest team in the league by average, trailing just the Houston Rockets. James, Rondo, Howard, Green, Dudley and McGee are all in their early- to mid-30s … Load management will be important for them this season, in particular for LeBron, who finally started to see Father Time start to affect his game in 2018-19 … If he actually starts to take a bigger step back in production and impact, things could go south for the Lakers quickly … The turmoil behind the scenes in LakerLand, at least recently, has been a major issue (especially in the front office), and with Davis able to enter free agency next summer, they’ll need to keep things nice and tidy this upcoming season, or risk a catastrophic free-agent departure.
PREDICTION: 2nd in the Pacific Division, 2nd in the Western Conference.