As the start of the new NBA season is getting near, the excitement for the NBA fans is growing as some of the teams are eager to challenge for the top this year. And one of those sides that can play a significant role this season are the Los Angeles Lakers.
Also, the Lakers are one of the league’s most popular franchises. However, in the past few years, they have failed to deliver on the expectations of their fans. Yet, after a dramatic and challenging offseason, the 2019-20 NBA season could be the year when the Lakers finally turn the tide for the better. Nevertheless, there are many questions and doubts surrounding this LeBron led team.
Lakers Season Preview – 7 Reasons
1 – New Beginnings
The Lakers fell short last season as they were not able to reach the playoffs. And the last time they made it to the postseason was in 2013. It is a long drought for one of the richest basketball clubs in the world. And despite adding three times NBA winner LeBron James last summer, this team missed out on the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. Therefore, Jeanie Buss had some tough decisions to make this summer. And the first change was at the top as Frank Vogel officially took over as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 45-year-old is taking over a team that was not able to get a postseason wildcard for the sixth consecutive year. And that is something that will be a challenge for the skillful coach. He will need to impose a winning mentality in a team that lacked self-confidence in the final weeks of the season.
Building a strong winning mentality will be the primary goal for Vogel. After all, good self-confidence is the main prerequisite for success in every sport. And NBA basketball is no different.
However, Vogel is proven head coach with a solid career record of 304-291 with Indiana Pacers (2010-16) and Orlando Magic (2016-18). Moreover, the expectation is that he can grow even further and there is great potential ahead of him. The move to L.A was probably a step in the right direction as he is hungry for success. His teams have been strong in defense and that is an area where the Lakers need to improve.
Therefore, it is safe to say that he is an upcoming coach with a bright future ahead of him. And that is something that the current Lakers team needs. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize that this will probably be his most challenging task as the expectations in L.A are always high. Combined with new additions in the team, the Lakers directors will expect totally different performances and results. But, the expectation is that Vogel will be able to live up with the challenge. Time will tell.
2- New Faces
One of the main challenges of the Lakers last season was that LeBron lacked support from some of the key players. To be more specific, the 34 years old small forward had a solid average of 27.2 points per game. However, that was not enough for the team to secure a postseason wildcard. Combined with LeBron injury problems, the team fell short to achieve its goal to take part in the playoffs. And players like Ingram did not live up to their expectations.
Therefore, the Lakers made some changes in the preseason. The first notable change was the inclusion of Anthony Davis to partner LeBron as the co-star in the team. And this signing was a major coup for the L.A based team. Davis is the type of player that the Lakers lacked last season. However, this transfer came at price as the core of L.A including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart was shipped elsewhere.
Also Rob Pelinka fell short of wrapping up a deal for Kawhi Leonard. And that was a big disappointment for the Lakers fans, as Leonard ended up at the local rivals – the Clippers. But the Lakers general manager bounced back as he added Danny Green to reinforce the wing.
Furthermore, the signings of Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley will be a great addition to the core of exciting talents such as Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Therefore, with all these addons, the Lakers are on the right track to get into the playoffs this season. Also, Vogel’s tactical approach will be more versatile as the team will be more balanced and not just a LeBron show. All in all, the new faces will bring a different dimension in the Lakers rotation this season.
3 – Opportunity for Redemption
One of the biggest surprises in the preseason was the trade of Dwight Howard to L.A Lakers. It will be Howard’s second stint at the Staples Center as a Laker.
However, most of the media perception about this move was not so positive. After all, Howard has a reputation as another journeyman in the NBA. Yet, the Lakers are bringing a fit, motivated and proven NBA veteran with great physical presence.
In the same, time, the trio of LeBron, Davis, and Howard can optimize the creativity of this Lakers team. Simply said, the addition of Howard would further enhance Los Angeles’ real chances for a playoff spot this season. And maybe it is just a coincidence but the Lakers have not reached the playoffs since Howard left. Another notable element that needs to be considered is the efficiency of Howard
On that note, it is important to pinpoints that the 6.9 f center has a convincing average of 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game. There, it is safe to say that the Atlanta born athlete can be a great supporting player for LeBron and Davies.
On the downside, it is well documented that Howard often had problems with his attitude and locker room behavior. For example, during his first L.A sting, his conflict with Kobe Bryant was something that marked his time in California.
But, if we are perfectly honest, Howard is a low risk for the Lakers this time around. In simple words, if he performs for the Lakers, it will be a great asset. And if not, the Lakers can easily trade him.
Nevertheless, Howard can still rebound and he can protect the rim. Moreover, his physicality is something that the Lakers need in order to counter those strong centers in the Western Conference. All in all, this second encore in L.A is a great chance for redemption for both parties.
4 – A fit and Ready Lebron James
The Lakers went through some major changes last year. Moreover, last season was a big transition phase for this L.A team as they finally managed to get a major superstar in the team. Therefore, the addition of LeBron was seen as a new hope and the beginning of a new era. However, James was injured much of the season and his defensive performances were not at the necessary level. And with 27 missed games, James was not able to make the expected impact during his first season in Los Angeles.
However, this season LeBron has a lot better team around him. Also, James heads into the season healthy and there is more to come from him. Also, LeBron is motivated to get his team to compete for winning the championship. The veteran still has enough power for at least one more push for the MVP award. We’re still waiting on odds for MVP betting but Lebron should be one to feature in our NBA betting picks. He will certainly be up for the challenge after the disappointment of last season.
5 – The Big Men Presence
The Lakers are a team that always had the so-called “big men presence”.
Legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal made a historic mark on the Lakers as a team that always had a strong and dominant big men in the team. And this time, it is Anthony Davis to make his mark at the Staples Center.
However, the six-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA member is a dominant defender as he is a three-time All-Defense selection and a three-time block champion.
Nevertheless, the inclusion of Davis will make a significant change into the Lakers formation. Frank Vogel will probably start with LeBron James at power forward which will give opportunities for Davis to score inside and out.
He is talented and has a commanding presence and it will a great addition for the Lakers this season with high expectations. A player such is Davis is something that the Lakers need in order to be able to challenge the top teams this season.
6 – Playoffs Again?
The Lakers will aim to get back into the playoffs this season. This team has been historically successful in the NBA as they have won a total of 16 titles and 32 NBA finals. And until 2013, the Lakers missed the postseason only 5 times. In simple words, they were one of the most exciting teams in the NBA as they showed great consistency throughout the years. But, in the past six seasons, the Lakers did not make the playoffs. Their average win score was as low as 27 per season. To make matters worse, 4 of the last 5 seasons were the worst in the Lakers history.
This season the challenge is to get a postseason wildcard. Now it seems that the Lakers have finally combined a team with superstars and young talents once again. The expectation is that this Lakers team is ready to conquer the Western Conference and to finally return where they belong – the NBA playoffs.
And these are also exciting times for the Lakers fans the expectation is that the team is equipped to go all the way to the NBA finals. You can wager on the Lakers getting to the finals, odds will vary depending on the sportsbook so it’s worth checking out a few.
7 – The rise of Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma is another name that will have a significant impact on the Lakers success this season. After his great first rookie campaign, Kuzma had some challenging times last year.
Kyle Kuzma was a player that managed to have a great rookie season. And the logical expectation was that he will grow even more in his second NBA season. However, that was not the case as he faced some challenges. To be more specific, the second season was not the smooth as many predicted. The fact is that he shot very poorly from outside the paint with just 30.3 percent on 3-pointers.
However, to be fair the entire young core had a challenging season and Kuzma is still a player with a bright future ahead of him.
Nevertheless, this season is a great opportunity for Kyle Kuzma. He seems to be valued by the Lakers as the organization did everything to protect him from potential trade as part of the Anthony Davis deal.
He might have a limited game time with all the new faces in the Lakers camp. But make no mistake he is a player that can make a great impact coming from the bench.
He should be able to come in off the bench and run second units when LeBron James is sitting. Therefore it is safe to say that the Lakers will be a better team this season. And Kuzma is on the right track for great success this year.
The Bottom Line
All in all, the Los Angeles Lakers have a great opportunity to make a turning point this season. After the disappointments in the last few seasons, Vogel’s team is expected to play a significant role in the NBA this year. And it is no brainer to expect that the Lakers will challenge for a playoff spot this time around.
A team that is led by a superstar such as LeBron, supported by the commanding presence of Anthony Davis and Danny Green will always be the pick to reach the finals. With the young upcoming young core led by Kyle Kuzma combined with Howard’s athleticism, the future of the Lakers looks bright and promising.