By: Nick Galle
After trading for NBA superstar Anthony Davis this off-season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been touted as one of the best teams heading into the upcoming season. Los Angeles has already been thrown into the mix of contenders for an NBA championship, and with good reason. While the Lakers may finally look like a true contender, there may be some factors behind the scenes that fans have overlooked that might say otherwise.
The Ability to Stay Healthy
There is no doubt that the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis is one of the most dangerous in the league, but there could be some concern with the injuries this tandem might face.
At 34-years-old, there is no denying that LeBron is on the latter half of his career. Last season James played only 55 games, the lowest amount of games he has played in a single season of his career. James was still productive while on the court, but injuries certainly did limit him this season to a certain extent. It will be interesting to see if the injury lingers at all next season, and if it does, LeBron could become limited once again.
Anthony Davis is no stranger to injury either. Davis has experienced multiple injuries to his knee, ankle, and shoulder throughout his career. Davis is only 26, so age won’t really be a concern for Davis, but the injuries have nagged him during his entire tenure with the Pelicans.
An injury to either James or Davis could be costly for the Lakers and their chances of winning a title this season. If both get injured early on this season, LA might just miss the playoffs for the seventh year in a row. Health might be the most crucial factor for the Lakers. If their superstar duo continues to struggle with injuries, a title will not be in their future.
The Supporting Cast
The Lakers were reportedly on the list of teams Kawhi Leonard was seriously interested in, but Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers instead. Stars like Paul George and Kevin Durant were also mentioned, but ultimately signed with other teams (Clippers and Nets).
Los Angeles ultimately signed DeMarcus Cousins to form a big three in Los Angeles. The big man is coming off of a one-year stint with the Golden State Warriors and has also struggled with injury himself.
Outside of James, Davis, and Cousins, the Lakers supporting cast is very questionable. Los Angeles has a young star in Kyle Kuzma, but the bench is going to be a huge question mark heading into this season. By trading away Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, the Lakers lost three members of a young core that was supposed to be the leaders of the future. It is clear that LA is trying to win sooner, rather than later.
While the Lakers may have a fantastic core, that core will only be able to take them so far. In order to make a legitimate run at a championship, they will need production from the bench, especially if injury takes down a member of the Los Angeles core. The efficiency of the bench is going to play a huge role in the success of this team, and the players on that bench might not be able to make enough of a contribution to bring the Lakers a title.
Too Much Talent?
The Lakers might just have too much talent for everybody to be content on this team. We all know LeBron wants to be a leader. Anthony Davis also wants to be the centerpiece of a franchise. Cousins and Davis already did not really work in New Orleans. Kyle Kuzma is trying to develop and work towards a higher level this season. There might just not be enough opportunities to go around for everybody in this starting five.
At least one member of the big three is going to have to learn to fall into more of a supporting role. With three relatively big egos, that might be easier said than done. If one of the superstars on this team becomes upset with minutes, production, or usage, internal problems might begin to occur between players and the coaching staff.
Prediction for 2019-2020 season: 49-33/5th in Western Conference
Analysis: The Lakers will make it to the second round of the playoffs and lose to the one-seeded Los Angeles Clippers. The bench of the Lakers will not be able to compete with the depth of the Clippers, and at least one member of the Lakers core will be dealing with a significant injury, limiting the team as a whole.
While this might be a hot take, the expectations for the Lakers are far too high right now. Going from a team that did not even make the playoffs to a champion is an extremely large leap. Despite adding Davis and Cousins, that leap might just be too big for the Lakers to make.
Cover photo via: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports
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