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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Can LeBron bring the Lakers back to greatness?


PhilBoxing.com




No less than the general managers of member clubs picked Los Angeles? Lebron James to stash away with the coming NBA season?s MVP award.

They, however, were unanimous in selecting, not the Lakers, but back-to-back champions Golden State Warriors to romp off with their first triple-peat, basing their selection on the -195 odds by the La Vegas-based odds maker Bovada.

Despite the acquisition of James this summer, Bovada ranked the Lakers, from the world?s entrainment capital of Hollywood, third to make it to the Finals with a +1000 chance to crown themselves the 2019 NBA champions behind Boston?s +500 and Houston?s +850.

While the three-straight title conquest, indeed, looks inevitable, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and company will have to play the season out and hope to avoid serious injuries or prove the DeMarcus Cousins experiment ineffective.

Or Durant and Klay Thompson?s impending free agency decisions distract the team just enough to allow a hungrier team to catch them by surprise.

The Lakers' chances begin and end with LeBron, who undoubtedly, is the best player on the planet and, that alone, is enough to gain contender status. What happens in the middle journey would however, be pure speculation none knows at this point their current roster is going to resemble six months from now.

Maybe a superstar unexpectedly comes available and the team swings a mid-season blockbuster. No one knows how the Lakers are going to play. Will they play to their perceived strengths and emphasize defense and transition or will they adopt the slower style of play typically associated with LeBron-led teams?

James himself had expressed uncertainty that this is only the first year of a four-year partnership. And that?s too early to speculate on what will happen. ?We?ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,? he said when asked about how his new team stacked up against the two-time defending champion Warriors. LeBron, of course, was trying to temper peoples? expectations for his first year with a young team, the same thing he did when he returned to Cleveland in 2014.

Everybody knows what James is capable of. Everybody knows, too, that he needs company for the Lakers to contend for the Finals. Like Dwayne Wade at Miami or Kyle Irving at Cleveland. New Orleans? Anthony Davis could be it at Los Angeles. Remember Davis raised more than a few eyebrows when he decided to switch representation this summer and sign with the agency closely associated with James and the Lakers.

For a guy who won?t be a free agent for another two years, that move surprised many. Was that a mere coincidence or planned on forcing a trade to the Lakers? Davis to LA is, definitely, a possibility. Even if the Lakers had to trade Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

James, of course, needs to perform an MVP-type of performance in regular season for his new team to fashion out around 55-60 games to secure more favorable early round playoff opponents. Ingram and at least one of the Lonzo Ball-Kyle Kuzma-John Hart trio would need to make significant improvements and be ready to make major contributions in tougher playoff games.

The team?s defense should also rank amongst the league?s best. With their overall void in three-point shooting, the Lakers can?t beat the Rockets or Warriors in a series by outscoring them, they?re going to have to grind-out victories with defense, rebounding and tempo.

The chemistry experiment of bringing-in Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley has to turn into positive effect. And, most important of all, the Lakers would need a 2018 Playoff-LeBron performance during the postseason.

If the Lakers succeed doing all these, they should be able to beat any team in the NBA in a seven-game series?except a full-strength Warriors team though.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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