2020 NBA Team Preview: Will The Lakers Defend Their NBA Title?

The Los Angeles Lakers put all the pieces together in the NBA bubble in Orlando, winning their 17th world championship and tying the Boston Celtics for the most NBA titles in league history. LeBron James won a fourth NBA championship with a third different franchise, having won previous titles with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anthony Davis won his first NBA title and is very happy as a Laker. He just signed a five-year maximum contract to stay with LeBron and continue the Lakers’ pursuit of greatness. This could be a dynastic run in the making for the Lakers. Let’s look at what they need to do to make sure they maintain their spot atop the NFL.

Offseason Changes

The Lakers brought in Montrezl Harrell from the Clippers, Marc Gasol from the Raptors, Wesley Matthews from the Bucks, and Dennis Schroder from the Thunder. They traded away Danny Green to the Sixers, JaVale McGee to the Cavaliers. In free agency, they lost Rajon Rondo to the Hawks, Avery Bradley to the Heat, and Dwight Howard to the Sixers.

The Lakers Will Succeed If…

They continue to get the key baskets and defensive contributions from their role players. LeBron and Anthony Davis get the headlines, and they deserve them, but the big fear for the Lakers entering the playoffs this past season was that the role players wouldn’t be good enough. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo (who is now with the Hawks), Markieff Morris, and other members of the supporting cast hit timely baskets, played decent defense, and were generally able to withstand the pressure and demands of the situation in the playoffs. They didn’t collapse or fold as some people thought they would. They didn’t have to be spectacular, but they did have to be good… and they were. If the Lakers get those same contributions this season, with Dennis Schroder now joining the lineup from Oklahoma City, the Lake Show is the clear-cut favorite in the Western Conference and the NBA at large.

The Lakers Will Fail If…

Their perimeter defense suffers. Teams are not going to beat the Lakers at or near the rim – not with Anthony Davis patrolling the paint and LeBron James providing help defense near the basket. With Marc Gasol now on the roster, the Lakers easily have the best frontcourt in the NBA. They are tough and nasty and deep. No one is going to outmuscle this team on the boards or overpower it near the rim. Teams with any desire to beat the Lakers have to shoot 3-pointers at a high level. It’s just that simple. The Miami Heat had some elite 3-point shooters, but the Lakers were able to contain them for most of that series. As long as the Lakers can continue to defend the perimeter, their big men will take care of the glass and rim protection. It will be hard to score on this team if it can bother opponents’ perimeter shooters.

Outlook

The Lakers won the NBA title… and they improved their roster. Marc Gasol is a great addition. Montrezl Harrell is a good addition. The Lakers are scary-good, they’re deep, and they love playing together. No opponent is ready to take the championship from their hands.

Prediction: 1st in Pacific Division

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