After the seismic shift in the NBA’s power balance this offseason, there is set to be considerably more competition at the top of the league compared to previous years with teams like the Lakers and Clippers looking to establish themselves as new superpowers. This is particularly the case in the Western Conference, where free agency decisions and injuries have left the Warriors dynasty crippled and the conference essentially up for grabs.
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Lakers News: LA Among 4 Teams to Contend for NBA Title, Says ESPN Analyst
With the addition of Anthony Davis to play alongside LeBron James, the Lakers have put together one of the most formidable duos in the NBA. However, that pairing has raised expectations considerably and the Lakers go from a team simply trying to make the playoffs to an immediate title contender in the West. Along with the Lakers, ESPN analyst Nick Friedell feels that the Clippers, 76ers, and Bucks are the other legitimate title contenders in the NBA.
Despite six teams being expected to win over 50 games according to the latest Vegas sportsbook projections, Friedell feels that the Jazz and Rockets don’t have the firepower to counter the playoff lineups that the Clippers and Lakers expect to bring to the table. While acknowledging that the Jazz could be a big problem this season – and even in the postseason – he doesn’t feel the additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic warrant enough to move the needle over the pair of new superstar duos in LA.
Lakers Parting With Front Office Executive Ryan West
Ryan West, son of Jerry West and the man behind a number of the Lakers’ draft picks in previous years has mutually parted ways with the Los Angeles Lakers after nearly a decade with the organization. West served as the Director of Player Personnel before being run out of the position for what both sides acknowledge was an inability on the Lakers’ to help West continue to expand his role and responsibilities.
West was primarily known for the D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson picks and while Russell didn’t pan out until after leaving the Lakers, he emerged into a most improved player candidate and the unquestioned leader of the upstart 2019 Nets. Clarkson was a second-round steal who far outperformed his draft position during his time in LA. While the Lakers overpaid for him before shipping him off to the Cavaliers, they got some productive years and later some draft capital upon his departure.
The Lakers’ scouting department has been one of the organization’s lone bring spots over the past few seasons and West’s guidance and expertise were a large part of that success. However, in the Anthony Davis trade, the Lakers essentially gave up their rights to almost all of their future first-round picks and it seems most likely that the team does not intend to build from the draft for a number of years as they attempt to chase rings in LeBron’s remaining seasons.