The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were some of the elite teams in each conference last season and look even better on paper for the upcoming campaign.
Los Angeles’ offseason moves involved landing Russell Westbrook as the team’s third star; splashing the full MLE on Kendrick Nunn; re-signing Talen Horton-Tucker on a three-year deal worth over $30 million; and filling in the rest of the roster with minimum deals for players like Malik Monk, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza and more.
Brooklyn, which already possesses three stars, had a similar offseason because they added Patty Mills to a two-year, $12 million deal, re-signed Blake Griffin for the minimum and added veterans Paul Millsap, James Johnson and LaMarcus Aldridge all for the minimum.
The talent the two teams have signed has pitted them against each other even further, making their first matchup on Christmas more enthralling than it already was.
As debates swirl over who the best team in the NBA is, Jalen Rose said the Lakers are No. 1 on ESPN’s “Jalen & Jacoby”:
“Now all I see is the best team in basketball…Malik Monk, 40% 3-point shooting, Kendrick Nunn, 40% 3-point shooting, both of those guys are amazing heat-check players. That’s going to give them their youth. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double with the Wizards last year. The Lakers, in my opinion, are the clear-cut best team in basketball. If they stay healthy, LeBron James is getting another ring this year.”
Los Angeles clearly added the offensive talent necessary to make it to the NBA Finals, though their defensive concerns will linger until proven otherwise. Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma all played pivotal parts in Frank Vogel’s defensive scheme; the players L.A. added aren’t better defenders than those three.
As Rose said, the biggest caveat to this squad is staying healthy. That rarely was the case last season, with injuries to James and Anthony Davis decimating L.A.’s title chances. Westbrook’s on-court fit with James and Davis also needs to be seamless, otherwise, the spacing could get hectic.
The Lakers are going all-in for banner No. 18, and only time will tell if this roster can achieve that.