This new NBA season is going to be very different from the last five or six given all the changes that took place over the summer. A lot of players changed their teams while others remain with their franchises, but obligated to step up if they want to take them to compete for the title.
Knowing all of this, it’s interesting to see what player is under the most pressure entering the new campaign. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith broke down who he believes have the most pressure to carry this term, picking the new addition of the Houston Rockets, Russell Westbrook, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. He revealed his top 5 on Monday’s edition of First Take, starting with Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and James Harden.
“Russell Westbrook [at No. 2]. Why? Because you’re with James Harden, because you’re in Houston, and because since Kevin Durant left OKC, you have been out in the first round.”
When the number one name on the list was revealed, he started to talk about LeBron and all the expectations he carries this season with the Lakers.
“LeBron James. You’re supposed to be the King, but the crown belongs to Kawhi Leonard. Not just Kawhi Leonard but before that Steph Curry. You haven’t been a champion in the last several years. The King doesn’t have a crown, now you got Anthony Davis, you gotta get it.”
While Kyrie and Simmons don’t have the same pressure as the other three guys on the list, the situation is more complex for Harden, Westbrook and LeBron. Yet, the Beard has taken his team to play for a chance to land in the Finals and Russ was unable to do the same with the Thunder.
As for LeBron, the last time he held the Larry O’Brien in his hands was in 2016, when Kyrie Irving’s famous shot helped the Cavaliers to defeat the Warriors at the Oracle Arena. Something needs to change this season for James and Westbrook, who look ready to win it all next campaign.