Los Angeles Lakers Quest for 18

The NBA season is set to begin in just over a week, and the Los Angeles Lakers are set to begin their journey for a repeat. Is it possible? Of course. 

The Lakers are still celebrating their trophy heist, and are already preparing for the beginning of the year. Thanks to COVID-19 changing the schedule and timing of the season and off-season for that matter. 

Let’s dive into the look of this team, which is quite a bit different than we saw winning a ring. 

Los Angeles Lakers Offseason Acquisitions

General Manager Rob Pelinka made quite a haul this offseason. Somehow, someway he actually improved the roster of the defending champs. 

Rajon Rondo left via free agency and joined the Atlanta Hawks. Dwight Howard tweeted that he was joining the Lakers, then shocked everybody by deleting the tweet and joining the Philadelphia 76ers on a free agency deal. Center Javale McGee was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a money-saving deal, and Danny Green was shipped to Oklahoma City via trade, before then being sent to Philadelphia to join Dwight Howard. 

Losing all those players fresh off a title would normally be detrimental, but not for a team like the Lakers. Thanks to Rob Pelinka and his phone. 

Pelinka started off the offseason by acquiring Sixth Man of the Year candidate Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Danny Green and the Lakers’ first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Schroder posted career highs in just about every category last season, averaging 18.9 points per game on 46 percent from the fielding, including 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. Schroder was dynamic and led the Thunder bench, and provides a much-needed playmaker and point guard. This is something the Lakers desperately needed before Rondo got healthy towards the end of the playoffs. 

Free Agency

Then free agency began, and the Lakers wasted no time. Wesley Matthews signed a one-year deal on the first day of free agency, as Pelinka wasted no time bringing in a well-respected three-and-D specialist and veteran who can still provide worthy minutes off the bench. 

Then the Lakers shocked the world and nearly broke Twitter with the biggest surprise of the free agency period. Sixth Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell signed a 2-year, $19 million deal with the Lakers, moving from one side of Staples Center to the other. The move came as a huge shock. Nobody anywhere had any sort of free agency prediction of Harrell signing with the Lakers. However, Pelinka somehow pulled off the deal to bring over the Sixth Man of the Year. 

Harrell was fantastic in 2019-2020, averaging 18.6 points per game to go with seven boards per game. Harrell was a huge part of the Clippers’ success last season. Shockingly, some blamed him for the Clippers’ tragic 3-1 collapse in the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets. 

Adding Harrell brings a tremendous amount of energy and scoring off the bench, improving the Lakers from last season. Harrell can also play the four and five rather effectively and is a perfect fit at the four with Anthony Davis at the five. A potential closing lineup of Schroder, Caldwell-Pope, James, Davis, and Harrell is deadly.

The Lakers finished off free agency by signing Marc Gasol to a two-year deal, before signing Anthony Davis to a five-year max deal. Gasol made history, as he and Laker legend Pau Gasol will be the first pair of brothers to play for the same team. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a huge part of the Lakers title run re-signed with the Lakers on a 3-year, $40 million deal. 

Los Angeles Lakers Future

The Lakers are even better than they were last year. Jason Kidd got passed on for head coach jobs around the league and he and Vogel will once again give opposing teams headaches with their rotations. 

Kyle Kuzma has a lot to prove in his contract year, and through two preseason games, second-year guard/forward Talen Horton-Tucker has 52 points combined. Add in the fact that Alex Caruso is one of the best defenders in the entire league, and the Lakers are by far the favorites to come out of the Western Conference. 

2020 was hard for everybody, and even more so this Lakers team who had to deal with the passing of Kobe Bryant. Frank Vogel and Anthony Davis were in their first year with the Lakers. With a plethora of talent at their disposal, it will be hard for any team to catch the Lakers. That includes the mighty and tough Western Conference. 

Season Prediction

Is this really necessary? The Lakers will finish with a record of 60-12, good for first in the Western Conference by a good amount. The Lakers might hit a few bumps, but ultimately win the NBA Finals in 6 games against the Boston Celtics. 

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