The Los Angeles Lakers stole the headlines by acquiring nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook. The team also made moves to acquire veterans Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard to play backup roles to the Lakers superstar Big 3, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That is why the Lakers are considered the best team in the Western Conference right now.
But looking back over the past few years, the Golden State Warriors have built the most successful roster. Led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors won an NBA championship before they acquired future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant to form a dynasty. What if the 2022 Los Angeles Lakers in their prime matched up against the 2019 Golden State Warriors in their prime? Who would win? It's time to decide who would win a seven-game series between these two all-time great franchises.
Russell Westbrook vs. Stephen Curry
At the point guard spot, this showdown is based on athleticism vs. shooting. Westbrook is bigger, stronger, and faster than Curry although he gives up the sharpshooting skill over to his counterpart. Curry will have no problem losing Westbrook as he tries to find open shots, which he will do successfully.
This matchup will likely be even in the end because Westbrook will have the easiest opponent to penetrate the paint against. Expect Westbrook to average a near triple-double in the series although his shooting percentages will be quite low when compared to Curry’s incredible efficiency from three.
Carmelo Anthony vs. Klay Thompson
People forget how dominant a prime Carmelo Anthony was. The superstar offensive player once led the NBA in scoring and he had some of the best physical traits for a scorer including strength and explosiveness. Even against a great defender in Klay Thompson, Anthony will have no problem getting buckets.
On the other end, Klay Thompson will be the best possible defensive opponent for Anthony. Klay will be relied upon to contest his shots and also run off screens for open three-point shots. Thompson will be a massive headache for the Lakers who will be focused on slowing down Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant
At the small forward spot, we are getting the marquee matchup in the series. LeBron James is the best passer and smartest all-around player in the series and will be mostly responsible for how his team plays the game on both ends of the floor. The King will have a strength advantage over Durant and will use that to score inside and pass out the post.
Durant is the best pure scorer for the Warriors, without disrespect to Stephen Curry. Durant’s length and shooting ability mean even LeBron James won’t be able to fully contest any shot he takes. Durant will lead his team in scoring although LeBron’s playmaking will be the deciding factor in this series.
Anthony Davis vs. Draymond Green
The will be an interesting matchup because Davis is 4” taller than Green and will have an edge in shooting over him. Davis is a problem for any defender in the NBA and even a Defensive Player of the Year athlete like Green will have problems.
But Draymond will do the best job he can possibly do against Davis, limiting the 6’10” superstar’s efficiency throughout the series. Green will do a fantastic job of being physical for the finesse Davis and even blocking some of his offensive rebound attempts.
Dwight Howard vs. DeMarcus Cousins
This is arguably the most exciting matchup between the bigs in this series. Dwight Howard will be the defensive stalwart for the Lakers and contest every shot at the rim but will have his focus on DeMarcus Cousins for the majority of the series.
Cousins is capable of going off for 30 points and 20 rebounds against any defender, so Howard will have to be at his best to ensure that does not happen. By the end of the series, Howard leads both teams in RPG and BPG while Cousins outscores Dwight in total points. Cousins will be a force, but Dwight will manage to control his impact exceptionally well.
The Lakers are incredibly talented with 4 dominant offensive superstars. There is no way any team could handle the amount of firepower that the Lakers have, especially from positions 1-4. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis have an automatic physical advantage over any defender they play against.
Westbrook, Anthony, and James are too fast and strong for players at their positions, while Davis has guard-like skills at his size. That means the Warriors will not be able to match the Lakers’ physicality. Dwight Howard will be the defensive specialist for the Lakers and without disrespect to Draymond Green, he is the best defender in the series.
The Warriors have incredible shooters on their roster and will be able to heat up from downtown. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant are the greatest shooting teammates in NBA history and they ultimately changed the NBA in how the game is played. As great as Carmelo Anthony is at shooting the ball, he isn't the marksman that the Warriors Big Three are.
The Warriors also have a terrific balance on their team. Their 3 shooters will take the bulk of the shots while Draymond Green will play the role of defensive stopper and point-forward. DeMarcus Cousins was a legitimate 30-20 threat on any given night and he will put a ton of pressure on Dwight Howard. The Warriors have every facet of the game checked off with their lineup on both ends of the floor from shooting to inside scoring.
Who Wins This Superstar Showdown?
This series will go to 7 games. There is no way either team will be able to distance themselves in the series as they will split the first 6 games. The Lakers take Game 1, but the Warriors take Game 2. This pattern remains until the pivotal Game 7, where the Lakers will squeeze out a 2OT thriller.
The Lakers' wins in this series were mainly due to LeBron's playmaking and their scorers’ intense pressure on Golden State. Russell Westbrook has an advantage over Stephen Curry and dominates the paint, while LeBron and Davis are too skilled for the Warriors defenders. Similarly, Dwight Howard is able to cancel out what Cousins brings on offense.
The Warriors' victories come as a result of their hot shooting. Whenever Curry, Klay, and Durant get hot; they would win the game. That is why they took 3 out of the first 6 games because scoring 3 points always beats out 2. DeMarcus Cousins also has some big performances to neutralize the Lakers’ inside presence while Draymond Green does a good enough job to bother Anthony Davis in the series.
But in Game 7, the Lakers fire on all cylinders. The game goes to the first OT after Kevin Durant misses a game-winner over LeBron James, and the Lakers cannot score their own game-winner with Anthony forcing a tough jumper which rims out with the clock expiring.
The 2OT is all about Carmelo, LeBron, and Anthony Davis. LeBron scores or assists 9 Lakers points, including a Carmelo three over Kevin Durant and an Anthony Davis lob. The Warriors only score 7 points in the quarter, courtesy of Kevin Durant, but cannot make a game-tying basket which gives the Lakers a 2-point victory in this all-time great Best of 7 Series.
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