Do the LA Lakers have what it takes to win the NBA Championship?
Written by Wilson Ebikhumi.
This franchise, like few others in the league, has accomplished a lot in the last few decades. With seventeen NBA (1949, 2020) championships, the Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the league. Only one other team could say they’ve won the same (Boston Celtics). Like every other team in the world of sports, the Lakers struggled to make it to the playoffs and were not considered title contenders after the late Kobe Bryant retired from basketball. During this time, the team and its players went through a lot of criticism and backlash because of their deficient performance and lack of effort from players during games.
2018/19 – 2019/20 Seasons.
In the 2018/19 season, the Los Angeles Lakers signed eighteen-time all-star and three-time MVP/ NBA championship super star, Lebron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers on a four-year deal worth $154 million. This signing was critical for the franchise because LeBron James has a winning mentality and has always set an example as a leader. by leading his team to the playoffs and winning the NBA championship. Because of these distinguishing characteristics, he has remained one of the world’s top athletes for many years and is well-known in the world of fandom. Unfortunately, things did not change in the first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, like many fans and critics expected; the team suffered another great loss, finished ninth place in the league, and did not make it to the playoffs. It was the first time a super star signing had missed the playoffs since 2005, and the first time he had not appeared in the NBA finals. As LA Laker fans said, it was not the best season because they had several crucial players injured during that period, like point guard Lonzo Ball, who played 47 games but missed the rest of the season due to a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, and shooting guard Josh Hart, who played 67 games but missed the remainder of the season after having an ultrasonic debridement procedure on the patella tendon in his right knee.
Everything changed in the 2019/2020 season as the franchise started this season by appointing a new coach, Frank Vogel. This was Frank Vogel’s first year as head coach of a first team, and LA became the third best defensive side in the league. Bear in mind that this was the year COVID started, and most sporting events were cancelled (NBA suspended). But it did not end there. On July 5th, the NBA announced the return of the season with strict COVID guidelines. This season, the Los Angeles Lakers made it to the playoffs with all 22 teams playing eight seeding games in one city (Orlando). The Lakers were able to make it to the western conference finals, which they won for the first time since the 2009/2010 season. The franchise also won the NBA championship with 60 wins and 22 losses. To accomplish this, they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and Denver Nuggets each in five games to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Anthony Davis and The Franchise.
Many would say the major contribution to their success was Anthony Davis. In other words, on June 15, 2019, the Lakers agreed to a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire six-time NBA All-Star power forward Anthony Davis. To do so, they had to trade several players with the Pelicans, which the Lakers did. The team agreed to give up forward Brandon Ingram, guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, and three first-round picks in exchange for Davis. Davis and James that year led the Lakers to the NBA finals that season, both averaging 26.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 59 games. This championship was important to Davis because it was his first in NBA and is first final in his career as a basketball player. As it was for several other Lakers players, the New Orleans Pelicans all-star also won the MVP in the finals after helping his team win in the final minutes of game six (finals) against the Miami Heats, a game that ended with the Lakers leading by thirteen points (106–93). While fans were celebrating the franchise’s seventeenth championship. The franchise’s cost of not having the fans at the stable centre in the regular season, according to sources (theatheletic.com), would have cost the franchise an estimated loss of $52.7 million dollars. and would also have cost the NBA league million dollars due to 258 cancelled regular season games when the league shut down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t stop the players and fans from celebrating their win on that day. Thousands of fans stomped down California streets, breaking COVID rules to celebrate with the players, while others watched the final game on large TV screens in bars and restaurants. Champagne showers, players having interviews shirtless on the podium, parades and street festivals on big buses, and fireworks lighting up the sky at night. Months later, the season ended, and the Los Angeles Lakers players were presented with their NBA championship rings. These rings are as significant as medals like the ones footballers get during the Champions League, if not more important than them. According to my research, these rings are worth around fifteen thousand to two million dollars in sales. The use of these rings started, and they were first handed out in the 1947 NBA championship finals. In my opinion, the 2019/2020 season was the best season we Lakers fans have had in a long time.
The 2021/2022 Season.
The 2021/2022 NBA season began on October 19th, 2021, and the Los Angeles Lakers, like every other team in the league, went on another round of trades. This time they sold several players who were key to their 2019 NBA championship. Like in 2018, the Lakers this time took a wide swing at the fence, trading Kyle Kuzma, Caldwell Pope, and Montrezl Harrell for 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. they averaged 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 14 assists in the previous season per game, which isn’t the best compared to other seasons played over the years? Even if Westbrook is electrifying and one of the best athletic point guards in the league, the problem with him is that he is ultimately a non-shooter who needs the ball in his hands all the time to succeed. But then again, Lebron James has been the greatest at starting with the ball and arguably the best on the ball in the NBA for years now. Plus, this trade makes the franchise financially inflexible and bereft of assets. Note that Westbrook is one of the highest paid players in the league. This season, the Lakers gave him a $44 million dollar contract, and it said he would be earning more next year, which has forced the franchise to put other players on a minimum contract. Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, DeAndre Jordan and Russell Westbrook are all in their 30s.We’ve seen this happen in the game of football, where teams sell young talents and buy older players who can’t run. These players signed by the Lakers have struggled to perform, especially on defence and a little bit sloppy on offence. While the young promising talents they sold, like Alex Caruso to the Chicago Bulls, have been the talk of this season because every statistical category shows how he’s driven to take the Bulls to the top of the eastern conference.
Clearly, the Lakers took a swing like they did in the 2019/2020 season, but this time missed. The coach, Vogel, and Westbrook have been criticised more than any other person in the team. Vogel started the season with several line-ups and none of them has worked properly. This isn’t their fault, in my opinion, it’s because all the current players lack chemistry and can’t work together. Like when the lakers lost (137-141) in a triple overtime, in that game we had the lead several times and lost it due to individual defensive and offensive errors. Davis is also a key player for the team, but he can’t escape injuries. He’s been injured at least five times this season. Ever since he had a sprained MCL, he hasn’t been the same player. Out of desperation, they keep playing him, knowing he’s not fully recovered, which then leads to more injuries and his absence is not helping the team. In my opinion think an injured player should not play till is fully recovered and hundred percent fit. The only player carrying the team like Lionel Messi did for Barcelona is LeBron James. The 37-year-old is having one of the best seasons of his 18th career in the NBA, averaging 28.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in 33 games this season and shooting 51.7% from the field, 36.4% from three, and 75.4% from free throws. Despite his excellent stats, his Lakers team is still struggling to make any progress this season, with only 24 wins and 27 losses and an eighth-place finish in the Western Conference, and fans and critics have given up hope of these teams making the playoffs and being considered title contenders.