Old-school basketball enthusiasts and connoisseurs of NBA history will appreciate the legendary success of the Showtime era. The Los Angeles Lakers produced one of the most successful runs in sports.
However, over the last few seasons, success in LA has been minimal. Laker fans hoped that would change a season ago with the addition of a new King in town. LeBron James made Los Angeles more competitive, but they still missed the playoffs again.
This was the sixth consecutive season without a Laker playoff game; a streak of failures 3-times longer than any in franchise history. But, the LA masterminds were hard at work during the off-season.
One trade and some timely free agent signings have reproduced an air of excitement in Los Angeles heading into the upcoming season. So, does the outlook for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019-20 mean it’s time for Showtime again?
The King James Effect
As noteworthy as the continued series of seasonal failures are, LeBron James missing an NBA finals broke an even more impressive streak. Only members of Boston Celtics teams of more than four-decades ago could boast of such a streak of finals’ success.
Last season, James’ first in a Laker uniform, broke a streak of eight-straight NBA finals. Certainly, 2019-20 will produce a sense of urgency for the consensus best basketball player on the planet. The Lakes will obviously reap the benefits of the King James effect.
The Brow Effect
In the era of big-three type of NBA rosters, expecting a single superstar to carry the load for an all-but average team is unrealistic. That seemed to be the case for the Lakers last season. LA management went out and corrected that problem with a huge trade.
The New Orleans agreed to part ways with Anthony Davis, aka The Brow. For the player who is deemed the best big man in the NBA, the Lakers shipped off three young players and an additional trio of first-round draft selections.
Quite obviously, Los Angeles thinks LeBron James needed a player worthy of being a superstar bookend. Davis is that player. The Brow effect will not only take a production load off James, but Davis also would seem to have a tool set that could actually make LeBron James even better, if that’s even possible.
The Supporting Cast Effect
Just having LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the same team makes you an instant contender. How far this pair of superstars could go on their own might be debatable. For that reason, LA added additional pieces to the puzzle in their supporting cast.
Danny Green has never quite reached the lofty potential given him early in his career. That’s not to say he hasn’t had a productive career. Green is the consummate locker room presence, possibly supported by his seemingly uncanny way of ending up with championship rings.
Los Angeles added another veteran to the bench in 12-year man Jared Dudley. Dudley is another individual who seems to command a positive influence over his teammates. However, the biggest second-tier name on the new Lakers roster doesn’t have that same positive teammate presence as Green and Dudley do.
James and Davis, plus youngster Kyle Kuzma, are the three most intriguing members of the Los Angeles Lakers starting lineup. Players like veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, defensive magnet Avery Bradley, and wing specialist Kentavious Caldwell-Pope give LA an imposing supporting cast.
The Championship Effect
So, what effect do these moves and the other pieces of the Lakers roster have on LA title aspirations? In a nutshell, they mean a lot. James and Davis together are going to present an imposing challenge for every opponent. Kyle Kuzma will roam freer in the Laker offense as well.
The projected final roster will also have enough talent to go deep into the second unit, a luxury Los Angeles has not had over the last handful of seasons. Ironically, the +440 futures odds for the Lakers to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy aren’t as good as their cross-town rival Clippers.
What is even more puzzling is that the odds of the Lakers winning the Western Conference are actually more favorable when compared to the Clippers than the NBA Championship odds. If you dig a little deeper, the odds for each team winning the Pacific Division paint a different picture.
Each of these three potential futures bets on FanDuel’s sportsbook favor the Clippers. However, there is enough of a discrepancy between them to indicate there is some sense that the Lakers may actually bump the Clips down a slot.
One thing is dramatically clear, however. The Lakers and Clippers are clearly the cream of the crop heading into the 2019-20 season. Whoever wins the Pacific Division is projected as the Western Conference number one seed. Both teams have lofty win total projections, with the team that betters that mark probably earning the highest seed.
With that top seed in the west, will come the consensus vote as the favorite to make it to the finals. No Eastern Conference team is projected to beat either LA team in the finals, or win more games during the regular season. Seems to indicate, that two months before the first official tip-off, NBA prognosticators think the road to the NBA title is going to go right through the heart of Staples Center.