The Los Angeles Lakers closed 2019 with a 26-7 record. Winners of two in a row, LA is still in first place in the NBA’s Western Conference.
The Lakers have championship aspirations and the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers stand in their way.
Over the last couple of years, LA has been constructing their roster for another stretch of title runs.
That project began during NBA free agency in 2018 when the Lakers signed NBA All-Star LeBron James to a four-year, $154 million deal to be the face of the franchise.
After injuries derailed last season, LeBron has been running and gunning as the Lakers’ starting point guard and the King has been unstoppable.
For those keeping score at home: James, who turned 35 on Tuesday is averaging 25.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 10.8 assists and 1.3 steals per contest.
James is one of six players that returned from last year’s Lakers team. That list includes Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.
During the offseason, the Lakers also include vets via trade in free agency including the now-injured DeMarcus Cousins, rookie Talen Horton-Tucker Dwight Howard, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels and Anthony Davis.
Davis came via trade from the New Orleans Pelicans and is lighting up the stat sheet. The 6’10 big man by way of Kentucky is posting marks of 27.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
Davis told me before the season that his goal is to win an NBA Championship with the Lakers and to be named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.
NBA free agent, Jamal Crawford recently told me that Davis could ‘absolutely’ win it too.
“Their team is number one,” he said. “Their defensive ratings are off the charts. I think he’s the anchor for it. He’s taken pride in trying to lock whoever up and I respect it.”
Anthony Davis Compared to Tim Duncan
“He reminds me of a Tim Duncan, Wake Forest type of guy,” said Cooke.
“Not emotional all the time, not showing emotion, just getting the job done.”
Cooke was ranked as a better high school basketball player than LeBron James, retired NBA forward Amare Stoudemire and Portland Trail Blazers forward, Carmelo Anthony.
Cooke, 37, is an Atlantic City, New Jersey native by way of Brooklyn, New York. He was a stat-stuffer himself in high school and during his junior year at Northern Valley High School in Old Tappan, NJ, averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He looked primed to make a splash in the NBA — at a time when talented high school players often declared for the draft after graduation. He never made it to the league and his story has been well chronicled in the documentary, Lenny Cooke that was produced by NBA free agent, Joakim Noah.
Meanwhile back at the ranch: Cooke tells Scoop B Radio that the sky is the limit for Anthony Davis because he’s playing next to LeBron James. “He’s a monster,” Cooke told me.
“But it also helps when you have the greatest basketball player on your team too, that runs the floor, that’s gonna make you run the floor, you know what I mean? They feed off of each other. And that is going to make them so great right now.”
Cooke is not the only hoops name to make the Anthony Davis/Tim Duncan comparison.
“But a little bit more athletic. Shoots the 3-ball a little bit. Tim was just so solid and AD has spent his whole career being so solid.”
That’s high praise. Duncan’s a 15-time NBA All-Star and one of the best power forwards to play in the NBA.
He’s won five NBA championships, was named an NBA Finals MVP three times and won the NBA’s regular-season MVP award twice.
The 7-footer was also named to the NBA’s All-NBA First Team 10 times.
Anthony Davis, 26, is making moves too. He’s been selected to three All-NBA First Teams and has one All NBA Defensive-First Team selection.