Any team with LeBron James is an instant contender: that much has been proven in the past. The Los Angeles Lakers were obviously a contender before their injury issues, and now they're relatively healthy and have added a former All-Star in Andre Drummond via the buyout market. However, they are currently the 7th seed and face a tough road to the NBA championship.
The Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James could potentially have to go through some extremely talented teams in order to get the back-to-back title that they desire. Instagram page dunk has shared a post detailing a potential scenario for the Lakers' playoff run, and if James managed to get past the teams listed, it would definitely be one of the best playoff runs that we've seen.
The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in a play-in game before the actual playoffs even start. That team is led by an MVP candidate in Stephen Curry, who also happens to be the 2020-21 NBA scoring champion. He is flanked by an elite two-way player in Andrew Wiggins and a defensive mastermind in Draymond Green, who is a former DPOY award winner. They will be a tough defensive team, but this is a winnable matchup for the Los Angeles Lakers. They have the size advantage over the Warriors, and the Golden State Warriors seem like they don't have the offensive firepower to compete with the Lakers.
As a lower-tier seed, in the scenario presented, the Los Angeles Lakers will face a top 2 seed in the Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul has helped the Phoenix Suns break their long playoff drought, and is a battle-tested veteran. Devin Booker leads that team in scoring and has the skillset to create his own shot at a high level, meaning that perimeter defenders like Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would have to be at their best. Anthony Davis would be the best big man in the matchup, but Deandre Ayton is still one of the best young centers in the game. This is a playoff series that would definitely go to 6 or 7 games. However, there is nobody on that team that can really make things tough on LeBron James defensively, meaning that the King could potentially have big scoring nights, and lead his team to a series win.
The Denver Nuggets have the likely MVP winner in Nikola Jokic. The Serbian big man has played at a high level all season and is continuing to show that he is the best passing big man of all time. Even though the Denver Nuggets have faced an injury to a key player in Jamal Murray, they have kept rolling and have finished as the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. In some ways, Nikola Jokic is a cheat code: a 7ft center shouldn't be able to make the passes he does. It will be up to Anthony Davis to contain Jokic on the interior, with Andre Drummond making the matchup even more difficult for Jokic. Michael Porter Jr. will also be a problem for the Los Angeles Lakers, as he can score from all over the court. Aaron Gordon will also be an athletic defender who would certainly guard LeBron James in this potential series.
The Western Conference Finals feature the battle of Los Angeles, with a showdown between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a team that has the personnel to guard LeBron James, as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both elite defensive wings, on top of providing a large part of their team's scoring. Kawhi Leonard was also able to lead his own team to the NBA championship during the 2019 season, and he is known for elevating his game in the playoffs. This would be an exciting potential matchup: LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard facing off was expected last season, but the Los Angeles Lakers choked a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. If they face off, then this will be one of the most difficult matchups that LeBron James will have faced in the last few seasons.
In the Finals, the Instagram post presents the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Brooklyn Nets as potential winners of the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers would certainly be tough matchups, as both are stout defensive teams, led by MVP candidates in Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, the matchup that a lot of fans want to see is the Los Angeles Lakers with Anthony Davis and LeBron James facing off against the Brooklyn Nets big three. There is no doubt that the Nets are going to test every aspect of the Lakers' defense. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden are all capable shot creators, and that becomes exponentially valuable in the playoffs. This will be one of the toughest matchups that LeBron James has ever faced, as he faces two players who are MVP-caliber, and an All-NBA performer in Kyrie Irving on top of that. The Los Angeles Lakers are outmatched in terms of star power, but they have the best player in the matchup in LeBron James.
LeBron James is already a candidate for the GOAT position. But if LeBron James beats all of these teams on the way to a title, then his case undoubtedly gets better. While most people will prefer Michael Jordan, this playoff run is potentially one of the most difficult that we have seen. If LeBron James manages to beat multiple top-tier MVP candidates on his way to the Finals, on top of the Brooklyn Nets big three, he will undoubtedly be deserving of the GOAT title.