LeBron James is in the news once again, except this time it has to do with what his team pulled off on Draft Night. The Lakers’ rumors were heavy as soon as they lost in the first round of the playoffs, and 3 major names dominated the rumor mill. Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard were all linked with the Purple and Gold as the Lakers were looking for a star playmaker to relieve pressure off LeBron James. The most likely was probably Chris Paul and the best fit was Damian Lillard, but Los Angeles made a move to acquire 9-time All-Star and former MVP Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook is the first MVP in history to be traded in 3 straight offseasons, casting doubts on his ability to help teams win games. After all, his success since Kevin Durant left him has been subpar. Westbrook has played with some great players including Paul George, James Harden, and Bradley Beal; but he could not even get to a conference finals with any of them. Joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis is an entirely different level of talent, and Westbrook finally has a chance to showcase his superstardom once again.
While Westbrook’s chase for a ring is a big story to follow, the narrative will always shift to LeBron James. The King, ever since he left Cleveland the first time, always seems to have the best players joining him. That is a testament to The King’s unselfishness as a pass-first superstar, but also his ability to make his team’s title contenders with one key piece away from contending. For the 3rd time in his career with his 3rd franchise, LeBron James has a Big Three superteam to challenge for an NBA title.
Russell Westbrook Is A Top-5 Point Guard And A Triple-Double Threat
Russell Westbrook always seems to find ways to remain effective, no matter if his team wins or loses games. This season, Westbrook was his typically dominant self, averaging 22.2 PPG, 11.5 RPG, and 11.7 APG. No point guard in history can rebound like Westbrook and the “Brodie” has made that his identity. Westbrook operates like a point-center because he loves to rebound and is mainly effective in scoring around the rim through post-ups or rim drives. Not to mention, no defender can stay in front of Westbrook.
Outside of a prime Derrick Rose, we have not seen a more explosive point guard than Westbrook. The former Oklahoma City man is faster, stronger, and more determined than every point guard in the NBA. In terms of being the best point guard LeBron has had, he is right behind Kyrie Irving. Westbrook is also the best point guard that the duo of James and Anthony Davis have played with as well, resulting in a massive upgrade over Dennis Schroder. Schroder averaged 15.4 PPG and 5.8 APG this season, but he could not find his role in the postseason which could result in the German finding a new team. Westbrook is bigger and stronger than Schroder, meaning he will put up much bigger numbers and is just a more dominant player.
Anthony Davis Will Return As The Best Two-Way Big Man In The NBA
Anthony Davis was an MVP candidate with New Orleans and even had a case as the leading scorer for the Lakers 2 years ago. But people forgot what Davis can do when he missed significant time this regular season and playoffs for Los Angeles. When healthy, we are looking at the best two-way big man in the NBA. In terms of talent alone, many are already comparing Davis to Tim Duncan at the power forward position, although Davis does not come close to the individual or team achievements that Duncan has.
Davis was in his prime 2 years ago, sparking arguments that he was the best teammate that LeBron ever played with. While Dwyane Wade won 2 rings with LeBron in Miami, he was slightly older while Kyrie Irving could not help LeBron’s losing Finals record. Davis after all won the championship in his first year playing with LeBron. Davis is unstoppable in all areas of the floor, averaging a career 51.4% from the field, 31.2% from three, and 79.9% from the free-throw line. With Davis and Westbrook on board, LeBron has an incredible supporting cast of superstar players.
Lakers Will Win The West, With Kawhi Leonard Injured And Chris Paul’s Future In Doubt
As things stand right now, the Lakers might have a one-way ticket to the NBA Finals again. They have 3 superstars still playing at a high level, and a ton of confidence in what they do on the floor. Westbrook is hungry for a chip, Davis is primed for a bounce-back season, and LeBron James wants to put away the “Washed King” criticisms once and for all. With this trio, the Lakers have the most talented team in the Western Conference. Especially when looking at their competition, it becomes immediately clear that is the case.
The Clippers will be without 2-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard for the better part of the entire season in 2022, and that means the Lakers will have the best team in Los Angeles. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are excellent two-way superstars who can each defend the best players in the game at a high level, but losing Leonard means the Clippers will have to exert a ton of energy to hold onto top seeding. Next, no one knows what will happen with Chris Paul. The point guard will be 37 next season, and the Suns do not have an indication of what could happen yet. They made the Finals this season, but that might not be the case again in 2022.
The Lakers have the best chance to win the West, as they did in 2020, and will probably accomplish this. Los Angeles probably need a few more pieces such as 3-point shooters and depth at key positions, but their core is the most talented in the West. It will not be shocking to see the Lakers capture the 1st seed in the West and make the Finals again.
GOAT Debate Start Again: LeBron Has Another Superteam, Jordan Never Needed One
It is only fitting to bring up Michael Jordan because LeBron could realistically win his 5th and 6th rings before he retires. If that happens, many pundits and fans will bring up the never-ending GOAT debate. LeBron has a great chance to win 2 more rings, and there is no excuse for him to not be a 6-time champion when all is said and done. First, he must get to 5 rings at 37 years old. But LeBron’s career did not follow the same path as Jordan’s.
Jordan had Scottie Pippen, regarded as a top-50 player, and later Dennis Rodman who was a defensive and rebounding specialist. But that does not formulate a superteam because neither players were on the level of what LeBron James or Kevin Durant had over their career. LeBron is having his 3rd Big Three with his 3rd franchise, sparking notions that The King is a mercenary who chases rings with superstars. Other than Kevin Durant, LeBron James has had the best teammates in NBA history for a superstar.
While LeBron should not be criticized or blamed for the Westbrook trade at all, there is no excuse for The King to not win his 5th and 6th rings. Jordan only needed Scottie Pippen to turn into an All-Star for him to run riot in the league to win 6 championships and 6 Finals MVPs, so MVP-caliber teammates should bring LeBron closer to Jordan’s 6 rings although he might never reach the level of greatness that MJ achieved.