As the Playoff picture solidifies in the coming few days, the Los Angeles Lakers can finally get to what they are here for, the NBA championship.
Frank Vogel and his coaching staff are for sure keeping themselves busy studying the eighth seed Portland Trail Blazers. Whilst the Lakers are going to get the best shot from the whole NBA moving forward into the Playoffs, it would be silly to assume that the Lakers are taking their feet off the pedal.
With all the energy, anticipation and preparation are underway, let us look at five realistic reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers are legitimately going to take home the championship at the end of this Playoff run, barring any injuries.
5. Mismatches And Defense
The Lakers are going traditional so far, keeping to the staple of having two to three big men to clog the paint, swat shots, secure rebounds and intimidate any driving dunker or lay-up shooter.
Few teams have at least two quality big men who can play the muscle-match down low effectively. No other team has both a multiple-time former Defensive Player of the Year and a current Defensive Player of the Year finalist on the same roster to combat Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis.
Once Rajon Rondo returns, the Lakers have two assist champions on the team to playmaker, break down schemes, and orchestrate the offense, which is a nice luxury, not to mention the stable bench playmaking contribution from Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso.
4. Experience And Discipline
As ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said, the NBA players will have a struggle of living with limited access to entertainment such as parties, clubs, and women.
Many of the teams have players in their early twenties who are in their partying prime. The Lakers, on the other hand, has a relatively older, more settled, and matured roster. Many of the Lakers are family men with kids and in their 30s. That gives them a mental edge to remain disciplined, committed to the NBA bubble grind, and the ultimate prize of a championship.
The close-knit group can also mentor and keep the younger players like Kostas Antetokounmpo, Talen Horton Tucker and Devontae Cacok focused on their task.
Several players on the Lakers team have a chip on their shoulders.
JR Smith has a chance to vindicate himself from his Finals blunder two years ago.
Dion Waiters has a chance to clear his name for the allegations that he is a temperamental and immature player who cannot help a team win.
Dwight Howard has a chance to right his former wrong when he left the Lakers after just one season without living up to the championship dreams that Lakers nation had for him, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.
2. Championship Pedigree
Between the entire roster, the Lakers players have nine championships under their belt. The high number of championship seasons that the players have accumulated would come in handy in the extremely demanding Playoff setting.
The combined championship pedigree makes the team highly coachable, smart, and adaptable during highly stressful time-out situations. In particular, veteran champions like Rajon Rondo and LeBron James can help calm nerves and model the way for teammates to follow when it comes to various situations.
As it is, the championship habits of preparation, work ethic, and foundation building are already evident in this team who just have one season together. The obvious camaraderie of this Lakers pedigree team means that the team has already overcome one of the most challenging hurdles of winning a championship – synergy, and rapport.
1. Tribute To Kobe Bryant
If there is any more compelling reason to win the Larry O’Brien trophy, it would be to win it for Kobe Bryant.
Arguably the best NBA player of the 2000s era and an idol for many players, including Lakers like LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Quinn Cook, Kobe is an LA legend. 2020 has been a roller coaster year of uncertainty, change, tragedies, and loss.
The one common pain shared between Lakers players and fans would be the single biggest driving force behind their quest for the trophy, as a form of tribute to the ultimate competitor, who is synonymous with winning.
Having reviewed these five pertinent reasons, it seems imperative for the Lakers to go all-in to fight for the trophy that is destined to be theirs to round up 2020 in a fruitful manner. Whether or not this dream materializes will depend on all factors moving in their favor in these coming few weeks.