ROUNDBALL DAILY

Why the Lakers have a real shot at the 2020 NBA title

The Los Angeles Lakers have climbed to the top of the betting odds boards, just behind the Clippers at sites like YouWager as the most likely team to win the NBA title in 2020.

Just how far will the Lakers go with LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the helm?

The team

It isn’t just LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers are loaded with talent. Along with the two principle names, they picked up DeMarcus Cousins (though he’s now likely out for the year with an ACL injury), Danny Green, Jared Dudley and Avery Bradley. They managed to retain guys like Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, Kyle Kuzma, and JaVale McGee. So they have a lot of depth as well.

Talent is one thing. Finding chemistry is an entirely different deal. The last time the Lakers had a team this loaded, it was a complete flop. Well, I guess they made the playoffs, so it wasn’t a total flop. But remember the couple of years when the Lakers were loaded with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher, etc?

Yes, this year’s Lakers are loaded. But will they be able to put it together as a team and make it through the playoffs? Even with all of the flip-flopping during free-agency, the Western Conference is still tough as heck. The Clippers are going to be a force to be reckoned with. And teams like the Warriors, Rockets, and Trail Blazers are still going to snag a ton of wins as well.

Will we finally see some ‘D’?

The Lakers’ Achilles heel for the last decade has been their defense. It’s been non-existent. But with the addition of Anthony Davis and Jared Dudley, will we see a definitive change on the defensive side of the court? I think so. There will still be some weak spots, but now the first-team, as well as the bench, will have some solid defensive players, including Rondo and Lance Stephenson.

Ultimately, the Lakers can make a deep run at the title. They have always been able to score, and that won’t change. But their defense has been so horrible that their offense hasn’t been able to keep up. Now they finally have some hard-nosed, defensive-minded players to slow down the onslaught of opponent’s buckets raining down.

The Lakers had a lot of talent last season. Still, they finished 10th in the Western Conference. Could this be the year that they take a top-seeded playoff berth, say, No. 3? Even if they don’t enter as a top seed, they have enough talent that they should be able to increase their wins enough to jump three spots to – at least– No. 8 and make the playoffs. Then once LeBron is in the post-season, all bets are off. That’s his realm.

The Lakers will finally make it back to the playoffs in 2019. It’s almost like it’s written in stone.

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