The Los Angeles Lakers ended the year 2020 with an NBA title in their grasps. They finally managed to put away a resilient Miami Heat squad that took them to 6 games without 2 of their 3 best players on the floor. Call it luck of the draw or call it pure dominance, the Lakers looked unbeatable in the postseason. Fast forward to next season, and the Lakers look like the dominant force once again. LeBron James is the leader and the best player in the world and his partner Anthony Davis happens to be an unstoppable force on both ends of the court.
There are many reasons why the Lakers are primed to take 2021 in their stride and win back-to-back rings. There are simply too many factors in their favor to ignore, and by the end of this article, it will become clear who the favorites for the NBA title is. Without further ado, here are the 10 reasons why the Lakers will repeat next season and win back to back titles for the first time since 2010.
10. The Warriors Without Klay Thompson
Unfortunately for Warriors fans, Klay Thompson is out for the season. This means we will be robbed of the marksmanship of the Splash Brothers and also of the Golden State Warriors contending for an NBA title. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, head coach Steve Kerr, and No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, the Warriors are most likely out of the title race this season.
This means the Lakers' biggest threat in the West, a healthy Warriors squad with Klay Thompson, is no longer an available challenge for the mighty Lakers. Los Angeles is expected to breeze through games against them because Klay, one of the best 2-way players in the game, is not there to help Stephen Curry on the court. Without Thompson and his career 41.9% 3-point shooting, the Warriors' lack of superstar talent means one less threat to the Purple and Gold.
9. Eastern Conference Contenders Lack Enough Superstar Power
The Miami Heat shocked the NBA Universe last season by making it to the NBA Finals. Led by Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Goran Dragic; the Heat took out the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers to make it to the grandest stage of them all. Even against the Lakers, the Heat fought back to win 2 games before losing the series in 6. As good as they were last year, it will be hard to put up that same kind of performance. The Heat have not acquired another All-Star to pair with Jimmy and Bam yet, and the rest of their core will be a year older.
We have seen how rookies who perform at their best don't necessarily have the same production the following season, meaning Nunn and Herro among others probably won't be as good as last year. Furthermore, other contending teams in the East haven't improved exponentially. The Bucks have the MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they have only added Jrue Holiday so far, which doesn't move the needle that much to threaten the Lakers. The Sixers have the Joel Embiid-Ben Simmons duo that hasn't worked at all so far, and the Raptors still don't have a single superstar player on the roster.
All eyes are on the Brooklyn Nets, who have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back from injury. They are the single biggest threat to the Lakers in the East, but Durant is fresh off an Achilles injury which is the worst injury for a superstar, and Kyrie Irving isn't necessarily injury-free himself. Unless Brooklyn acquires James Harden before the trade deadline next season, the Eastern Conference doesn't have enough superstar power to match the talent of the Lakers.
8. Anthony Davis Is Better Than Ever
Anthony Davis, the best big man in the NBA, has finally tasted championship glory. He led the Lakers in scoring during the regular season by averaging 26.1 PPG and also made the All-NBA First Team last season. Anthony Davis has always been a spectacular talent, but next season we will see a scarier version of him. Once a superstar player tastes championship glory, it becomes an addiction and a motivation that improves a player's psyche. As long as Davis is healthy, he will continue to be the driving force on offense and defense for the Lakers.
Playing with LeBron James has made Davis a better player, as he learned to distance himself from outside noise and just dominate the game. LeBron James had to learn it the hard way after his first stint with Cleveland and later Miami, and Davis is lucky to have a player like that with him. Now, Davis will start the season with full confidence that he is one of the 5 best players in the world and a player capable of being the number one option for a franchise like the Lakers. Anthony Davis is already being mentioned among some of the all-time great Lakers big men, so we will see a rejuvenated and dominant Anthony Davis next season which bodes well for the Lakers' title chances.
7. The Houston Rockets And The Denver Nuggets Are Step Behind
Looking towards the Western Conference, we all know that Klay Thompson's season-ending injury means the Warriors should be out of the mix barring another historical and spectacular season by Stephen Curry. But what about the other contenders? The two main forces in the West last season, besides the Los Angeles Clippers, were the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately for them, they don't look to be competing with the Lakers anytime soon.
The Houston Rockets have officially imploded, with the loss of Mike D'Antoni and GM Daryl Morey stepping down after the disappointing second-round defeat at the hands of the Lakers. With both of those key figures out of the franchise, the Rockets looked to be in rebuild mode with the hiring of rookie coach Stephen Silas. James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the two former MVPs and highest-paid players on the team, both requested trades and officially want out of Houston. The days of small-ball and fast-paced offenses are over, which means one less threat to the Lakers.
The Denver Nuggets have Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but they didn't add any key pieces to the roster. They lost Jerami Grant in the offseason to Detroit, and they can only look towards Michael Porter Jr taking a step up as an All-Star as their saving grace. It was expected that the Nuggets could have added a third All-Star to take a step up next season which didn't happen yet. The Lakers took out the Denver Nuggets in 5 games last season, and there is no reason to believe that the Nuggets will somehow do better than that after losing Jerami Grant and not adding another star. As far as the Lakers are concerned, neither the Rockets nor Nuggets pose a massive threat to their throne.
6. The Los Angeles Clippers Mess Up Free Agency
The number one contender for the Lakers has always been the Los Angeles Clippers. Since Kawhi Leonard and Paul George took their talents to Staples last season, the Clippers were a massive rival and threat to the Lakers. If they had met in the Western Conference Finals last year, perhaps we would have a different NBA champion. But it didn't work out that way, as the Clippers choked their aspirations away to lose the series against the Denver Nuggets despite leading 3-1.
With a chance to pull their socks up and go again next season, free agency was supposed to be a massive time for the Clippers to add some playmaking and important pieces for the roster. Especially after the firing of legendary head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers were expected to revamp their roster. But that didn't happen. The Clippers lost their third-best player and 6th man of the year Montrezl Harrell….to the Lakers. Harrell averaged 18.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG for the Clippers and helped them capture the second seed in the West. The fact that he is gone and helping out the Lakers is a massive slap in the face. Not to mention, the Clippers did not find another star to replace him and have to settle with veteran Serge Ibaka who they signed in Free Agency.
Ibaka is a very good player for a contending team, but the Clippers needed a third star to close the gap with the Lakers, who have added Harrell. Not to mention, the Clippers pulled off one of the most head-scratching moves in recent history by re-signing veteran Marcus Morris to a massive 4-year, $64 million deal when he is 31 years of age. While the Lakers acquired a star-like Harrell for 2 years, $19 million; the Clippers thought it was best to commit over $60 million to a streaky shooting forward who will be 32 next season. The Clippers clearly have not done enough to improve their roster from last year and that greatly affects their title hopes.
5. The Last 3 Times The Lakers Won Championships, They Went Back-to-Back
We have seen some all-time great Lakers teams throughout history. We have seen the George Mikan days, the Wilt and Jerry West days, and the Magic Johnson - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dynasty. Magic and Kareem were the duo to lead the Lakers to 2 straight NBA titles in 1987 and 1988. Magic's playmaking and floor leadership paired with Kareem's dominance in the paint resulted in a Lakers Dynasty known as "Showtime".
The next Lakers Dynasty featured both Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to a 3-peat in 1999, 2000, and 2001 which was a historic moment in NBA history. The duo of Shaq and Kobe were unbelievable to watch because we have never seen a little man-big man tandem dominate a game like that. We had Magic and Kareem before that, but Magic was almost a center himself and Kareem was not in his prime.
Fast forward a few years later, and Kobe Bryant was the franchise player for the Lakers during the 2009 and 2010 NBA championship run. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led the Lakers to back-to-back rings as their partnership led by Phil Jackson were too much for either the Orlando Magic or Boston Celtics to handle. Looking towards 2021, and the LeBron-led Lakers have a chance to be the 4th Lakers championship team in a row to win 2 rings in a row.
LeBron James seems to win NBA titles everywhere he goes and this is his third franchise to do this with already. If he can continue his greatness, the Lakers are right on track to do so. The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in sports history and there is no doubt that they will be set up to capture their back-to-back title in 2021. If this happens, this would mean 4 straight championship teams resulted in at least 2 rings which is extraordinary.
4. The Lakers Had A Tremendous Offseason
The Lakers managed to snag Montrezl Harrell away from their rival Clippers for a bargain $19 million contract. Harrell adds aggression, scoring around the rim, and rebounding to help Anthony Davis inside the paint. But that is not all the Lakers have done.
The Lakers made their first splash in free agency by signing runner-up 6th Man of the Year Dennis Schroder from Oklahoma City. We saw how the speedy point guard, who averaged 18.9 PPG last season, almost helped the Oklahoma City Thunder knock off the favored Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Schroder is a force off the bench, and he showed he was a capable starter for the Atlanta Hawks a few years ago as well. The Lakers officially have a playmaker and ball-handler to relieve LeBron James, and that bodes well for the franchise. Not to mention, the Lakers had to lose some players to make these two signings happen.
The Lakers traded Danny Green to acquire Schroder, and they lost both JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard due to trade and free agency respectively. They managed to re-sign two-way swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and also sign 2-way guard Wesley Matthews. The Lakers didn't stop there, as they snatched veteran center and former All-Star Marc Gasol to back up Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell. The Lakers have actually upgraded every position during the offseason by adding more effective players that play on both ends of the court. The Los Angeles Lakers are stacked with star power, veteran leadership, and skilled players that will surely result in an NBA Finals appearance for them in the West.
3. Los Angeles Lakers Want To Win 18 Rings To Surpass The Boston Celtics
The Lakers obviously have Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James, who is still the best player in the NBA. After that, much of the Lakers core is intact. They have the same head coaching staff, which is absolutely essential to repeating for an NBA title. Even if the Lakers have the talent to win a ring, it is proper coaching that keeps egos in check and keeps players motivated and hungry during a long NBA season. Head coach Frank Vogel did a sensational job last season, and he is back along with Jason Kidd as an assistant. Most importantly, the head brass of the team Jeanie Buss of the legendary Buss family is in charge again, which means they will do everything possible to win ring #18.
History shows that the Celtics and Lakers have gone back and forth in terms of championship wins. The Celtics have 17 rings to match the Lakers, and we can all thank Bill Russell and his legendary teams for that. Whenever Boston gets ahead, the Lakers always manage to fight back and try to equal them. The storied rivalry between the Celtics and Lakers franchises is arguably the most famous part of NBA lore, and there is no reason why it should stop anytime soon. The Lakers managed to win 3 titles in a row to equal the Boston Celtics record of 17 championships, and they will be on a bid to get 18. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Buss family in charge, the Lakers have an extra zest and motivation to make history and solidify their standing as the single great organization in basketball history.
2. LeBron James And Anthony Davis Are Still Best Duo In The NBA
Very good teams have a host of above-average players who play well on both ends and are well-coached. But great teams have superstar talent on the roster, and having two of the top five players in the NBA means that the Lakers are the favorites in the West. LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, and he proved it once again last season. Despite hitting 34 years of age with 17 total seasons under his belt, LeBron James managed to revamp his game and focus on setting up his teammates. James led the NBA in assists per game (10.6 APG) and was the driving force for the Lakers. His partnership with Anthony Davis was simply too much to handle for the opposition.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis offer a mix of physicality and skill that is unmatched in the NBA right now. In a star-driven league, the star power that the Lakers duo brings is on a different level. Anthony Davis is in his prime and he finally learned how to win in big games. LeBron James has had a historical career and has seen it all on the basketball court. In terms of making adjustments and knowing how to win, LeBron is a special force right now. We have seen many great duos last season with James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and even Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. But none of these guys had the mix of physical ability to go along with the skill to match LeBron and Davis.
1. LeBron James Is Chasing The Ghost Of Michael Jordan
The most important reason the Lakers will win back to back titles is that LeBron James is hungrier than ever to do so. The man is on a mission to silence all critics and doubters to prove he is the single most dominant NBA superstar to have ever played. While he may have already proven that to some fans, a lot of critics remain adamant that LeBron James is simply chasing an unreachable ghost of the great Michael Jordan.
Winning a 5th ring in back-to-back seasons will surely get him closer to achieving Michael's count of 6 championships. LeBron currently has 4 rings with 4 Finals MVPs, meaning he is on the right track. Fittingly enough, only MJ and LeBron are the two players to have 4 Finals MVPs. With LeBron James resting for the majority of the season and gearing for the playoffs, the Lakers will have to hold it down during the regular season for their leader. Anthony Davis, Montrezl Harrell, and Dennis Schroder should be enough to keep the Lakers close to the 1-seed in the West while LeBron James plays at a steady pace. When the postseason comes, winning time is here and LeBron James will awaken from his slumber.
The King is the single greatest player in the league today and no player matches his level of basketball I.Q and overall skills in the game. LeBron's hunger to prove he is the greatest player ever and the fact that the Lakers have all the reasons going their way to win their 18th championship, we will most likely see the Purple and Gold lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy again in 2021.