If you ask most hoop fans who was the winner of the 2021 NBA off-season most would probably say it is the Los Angeles Lakers. Coming off an impressive NBA Bubble run, where All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ stars shined brightly en route to the franchise’s 17th title, most experts had picked the Lakers to repeat in 2021.
Unfortunately for Laker Nation, injuries derailed their dream of surpassing the Boston Celtics for the most titles in NBA history in 2021. After AD went down with a groin injury in their first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers were eliminated in six games by the eventual Western Conference Champions.
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Blake Griffin Unfazed by Lakers off-Season Moves
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka wasted no time in revamping their roster in hopes for another title run. Pelinka facilitated a blockbuster trade on NBA Draft night that brought former NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in exchange for Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In the eyes of many experts the trade makes them the favorites to win the title in 2022. However, Brooklyn Nets All-Star Blake Griffin doesn’t seem at all fazed by the Lakers offseason moves.
“You look at it but at the end of the day, things on paper, it’s tough to say,” Griffin said per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. “I’ve been in situations where a team stacks up and it doesn’t work out.”
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Russell Westbrook Talks About His Fit With the Lakers
Other key additions for the Lakers this offseason included Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, and Trevor Ariza. The Lakers have gone from a top-heavy team that relied heavily on the output of LeBron and AD, to a roster that goes 9 or 10 deep.
Even with all of the acquisitions that the Lakers have made this season, Westbrook is clearly the most important one as an All-Star point guard that will allow LeBron to play off-ball. However, Westbrook’s aggressive playstyle and reputation for being a ‘stat-padder’ has many people wondering how he and ‘The King’ will mesh as teammates in Hollywood.
The Los Angeles native made it clear during his introductory press conference that he is coming home with only one goal in mind, to help the Lakers win the championship. And he acknowledges that LeBron is the catalyst for all of that.
“As you know, Bron is one of the best players to play this game,” Westbrook said. “And his ability to kind of be able to do everything on the floor allows me to be able to just figure it out. I’m coming to a championship-caliber team, and my job is to make sure that I’m able to make his game easy for him. And I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game.”
Blake Griffin Talks About ‘Unfinished Business’ With the Nets
The Lakers won’t be the only team on a revenge tour this season. After a disappointing second-round exit courtesy of the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nets will also be look to avenge their loss in 2021 with a title in 2022. Griffin has made it clear that he wants to be apart of that after signing a 1-year veterans minimum deal to return to Brooklyn next season, citing that he has unfinished business to tend to with the franchise.
“We obviously didn’t accomplish what we wanted,” Griffin said during a video news conference per SNY “You can say injuries, but every team had injuries. We feel like there’s definitely unfinished business. There’s something bigger that we want to achieve, and I still want to be a part of that.”
With both the Lakers and Nets headed toward a crash course for the NBA title, the 2022 season is already shaping up to be an explosive one.