Coming into the 2019-2020 season, the Lakers have an entirely new look. Gone is the youth movement that surrounded LeBron James last season, instead replaced by Anthony Davis and a crop of established, veteran free agents. While the team as a whole looks to be a much better fit for James’ style of play, the addition of Davis, in particular, gives James the caliber of weapon he hasn’t had the opportunity to play alongside.
While James has played next to excellent guards in Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade yet has never had the versatile frontcourt weapon that Davis offers him. Both Kevin Love and Chris Bosh morphed into floor spacing third options, however, neither possess the sheer athleticism and talent that Davis brings to the table. A true superstar who commands double teams from opposing defenses, his gravitational pull on the court should help to open James up for a number of easier looks.
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LeBron Will Be ‘Revitalized’ Playing Next to Anthony Davis on Lakers, Says Analyst
ESPN analyst Nick Friedell made an interesting point in saying that James would be “revitalized” playing next to Davis. Coming off a year that saw him miss extended time with an injury for the first time in his career before being shut down after the Lakers had been eliminated from the playoffs, James had a down year despite averaging 27.4/8.5/8.3.
On traditional LeBron-led teams, he is the primary focal point of the offense who frequently draws a number of help defenders whenever he attacks the rim. With Davis on the court and knowing James’ ability to make excellent reads with the basketball, defenders will be more reluctant to leave a player of Davis’ caliber when James is capable of hitting the wide-open superstar for an uncontested look. This should result in James getting more opportunities to take his man one on one to the rim or simply draw help defense off wide-open shooters on the perimeter, making the Lakers (on paper) an incredibly dangerous offense.
As a result of this new look, most analysts are projecting a major turnaround for the Lakers. While the Lakers missed the playoffs at 37-45 last season, every analyst on ESPN’s First Take this morning had the Lakers firmly entrenched as a top-four team in the Western Conference. While the Clippers were the unanimous choice to win the west among the panel, most had the Lakers not far behind and Vegas oddsmakers even have the Lakers listed above the Clippers. Safe to say, the path to the Western Conference Finals seems to run through Los Angeles.
Lakers’ DeMarcus Cousins Looking For Bounce Back Season
While Cousins’ per-36 numbers in his rehab year for the Warriors weren’t terrible, he didn’t look to be the same dominant interior force that was formerly a first-team All-NBA superstar. Coming off yet another injury sustained in the playoffs and with a barren market for his services, the Lakers were able to scoop him up on an extremely team-friendly deal in what both sides hope to be a mutually beneficial year. The Lakers need strong center play and should Cousins prove to be over his injuries and back to feeling comfortable on the court, he could help turn the Lakers from a contender into a certified championship-level team while creating a bidding war among teams for his services in free agency next year.