The Lakers made the first biggest splash of the 2019 NBA offseason by trading for their season-long target: Anthony Davis. After all, the Lakers should have offered anybody to pair LeBron with Davis (arguably two top-5 players) and they sure did. They had to part ways with Lonzo, Ingram, Hart, and three first-round picks to get this done. While this might seem like a massive haul to give up, the Lakers actually did very well in keeping Kuzma and adding Davis to join LeBron James.
The Lakers were not done, as they were hell-bent on adding Kawhi Leonard to form a Big-3 that could possibly be the best we have ever seen. Rob Pelinka and the Lakers did everything in their power to make it possible, by convincing Davis to waive his $4-mil kicker and making some more minor trades to free up cap space. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, Kawhi simply maneuvered his way to the Clippers to join forces with Paul George. The Lakers were forced into their Plan B by signing the best possible role-players to add to the LeBron-Davis duo, including Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins. Even without Kawhi, the Lakers still look terrifyingly dominate.
However, the Lakers have chinks in their armor that will show themselves during the course of 82-games. We have all seen how chemistry can be very fickle, and the Lakers will not be an exception. We remember how it took time for the Miami Big 3 with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to click, and we can expect to see a similar start to the season. Not to mention, the Lakers roster is filled with faults that simply cannot be ignored; including faults of the great LeBron James. Without further ado, here are three reasons why the Lakers will not have enough to win the championship in the 2019-2020 season.
1. Role Players
Despite missing out on Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers have done an admirable job in filling out the rest of their roster. By signing and re-signing familiar names such as Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, and DeMarcus Cousins; the Lakers look poised to be the favorites- on paper.
There will be a lot of pressure on these role players to perform since the Lakers can be deemed relatively “top-heavy” with a 34-year old LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While the role-players are experienced with All-Star type seasons (think Rondo and Cousins), they will need to perform at a high level to keep the Lakers as the favorites.
Rondo has aged and has never been a knock-down shooter. In comparison to the point guards for the top contenders in the league (Beverley, Westbrook, Simmons), an aging Rondo and one-trick pony Quinn Cook put the point guard position for the Lakers at a slight disadvantage. Avery Bradley has experienced injury-riddled seasons and while Danny Green is fresh off a championship, he is known to be inconsistent with his performance and his jumper seems to abandon him at times.
More importantly, we all witnessed the unfortunate fall of DeMarcus Cousins who was a legitimate 40-20 threat every single night. If DeMarcus Cousins can regain any sort of All-Star form, all these worries disappear. But this is extremely unlikely considering the severity of his injury, as evidenced by his inconsistent performances last season.
The key to the Lakers “others” is Kyle Kuzma. He will need to be a consistent third option for the Lakers to possibly reach the NBA Finals. If Kuzma can play like an All-Star, and if the role-players can hit their three-pointers consistently; the Lakers can position themselves for a trip to the NBA Finals. But these are still contingent on a 34-year old LeBron James.
2. LeBron’s Mileage
LeBron James is truly one of a kind. We have never seen a player play so many seasons (16!) and log so many minutes without any major injuries of any kind. However, this might be the season we finally see LeBron slow down. It is only natural, no matter how much of a freak athlete he is. Father time, when it is all said and done, is undefeated. This does not mean that LeBron will be a season from retirement, but we will not see the consistent 28-8-8 LeBron we have grown accustomed to.
We will have to put up with “load management”, missed games, rare back-to-back games, and many missed opportunities to see him play. It makes sense, as the Lakers need to do everything in their power to preserve LeBron for the playoffs. This will come at the expense of the Lakers season. They will not manage to attain the first two spots in the West and will be in a battle each round in the playoffs in an incredibly deep West.
3. The West Is Just Too Deep
While the Lakers placed themselves into the top-tier of teams in the league with the trade of Anthony Davis, the Western Conference will prove to be too much of a battle for the Lakers. The Clippers might be the best defensive team we have seen since the MJ-Pippen-Rodman Chicago Bulls days, and the Rockets with Westbrook will be formidable for any opponent. Utah got significantly better by upgrading with Conley Jr., Bogdanovic, and Jeff Green; not to mention the Nuggets who just got even deeper in the offseason (and we might finally see Michael Porter Jr).
These teams will most likely be better prepared to attain higher seeding in the regular season and give them advantages in the playoffs. The Lakers will simply have too many challenges throughout 82-games, including “load management”, chemistry issues, and quite possibly a few injuries. The Lakers will have to pray on health, accelerated chemistry with the new coach and players, and consistent performance of their role-players to reach the NBA Finals.