The Lakers added a ton of talent over the offseason, but it’s a lot of old talent. While the addition of players like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard helps the Lakers, it can also be what stops them from reaching the Finals. So, are the Lakers truly contenders?
The Lakers Go All-in
The 2020-21 season wasn’t too pleasant for the Lakers as injuries kept them from the top of the West. LeBron James played 45 games, as he battled an ankle injury that forced him to miss 20 games (the longest absence of his career).
Anthony Davis played in 36 games, as he battled right calf and heel issues. Then, another injury affected his playoff performance. He suffered a strained left groin in Game 4 against the Suns and returned in Game 6 of the series but exited after re-aggravating the injury.
The Lakers lost the series and were knocked out of the playoffs.
After their play-in tournament win to get to the playoffs, their first round exit wasn’t too surprising. But as defending champions, it was a disappointment. The Lakers organization is more than aware of this, and their offseason moves reflect that. The Lakers have a win-now mentality, and their slew of veterans are all-in.
Melo and Bron Unite
The Lakers were busy this offseason and it started with a draft day trade. Los Angeles sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the No. 22 pick to the Wizards for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook will join his hometown team and form a “Big 3” with Davis and James. But the Lakers didn’t stop there.
After acquiring Westbrook, the Lakers signed a familiar face. They signed center Dwight Howard for his third stint with the Lakers. Howard was a member of the 2020 championship team and could be on the verge of his second championship.
The Lakers also signed veterans like Wayne Ellington, Rajon Rondo and Trevor Ariza to one-year deals. They added a little bit of youth with additions like Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, and Talen Horton-Tucker (who they re-signed) and signed them to multi-year deals. All of these moves were noteworthy, but perhaps the notable (besides Westbrook) was the addition of Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony is a veteran with a knack for scoring. He played with the Portland Trail Blazers for two seasons after a period of being out of action. He showed he still has a bit left in the tank and could be a valuable player off the bench.
And this season, he’ll join his draft mate and close friend in LeBron James. This is Anthony’s best chance at winning a championship, and what better way to win than with his friend.
The Lakers’ path to a championship won’t be easy. Teams are getting younger (and better), and a running team could give the Lakers problems. But it’s hard to count them out. The Lakers are contenders, and if all goes right, the vets are bound for a championship.