2018-19 Season Preview Review: Los Angeles Lakers
With the dust having settled on the 2018-19 season, the draft having taken place and free-agency about to tip off Sunday night, let's take a look back at our season previews and whether each was a slam dunk, a mid-range jumper or an airball.
Today, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Season Outlook: The Lakers didn't land the biggest fish on the free-agency market, they landed The Great Whale. When LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood and sign a four-year, $153 million contract with Los Angeles, it changed the entire landscape of the Eastern Conference as his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, who ruled the East during his four seasons in his second tenure there, will all but assuredly slide toward the back of the pack. What remains to be seen, though, is how much James signing with the Lakers changes the landscape of the rugged Western Conference. Are the additions of veterans James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley and draft picks Moritz Wagner and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, combined with promising young guns Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac enough to get Los Angeles back to the playoffs? Though expectations will be much higher than simply qualifying for the postseason, which is a given for any team that James decides to join, the West is not the place to be attempting to learn on the fly. James, though, has always been different and if any single active player is capable of doing what many expect to be done by the Lakers this season, realistic or not, it's him. Still, man, this is the West, and James’ amazing runs to the Finals have been ended by no less than James himself.
The Season: Tipping off with great expectations, the Lakers' season ended up similar to many of those in Cleveland in recent years -- off-the-court drama, rumors, innuendo, a coach fired and a team-runner resigning. What was not the same as what went down with the Cavaliers the last four seasons was a trip to the NBA Finals. In fact, the Lakers spiraled to a 37-45 finish and missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. Along the way, James and his agent, Rich Paul, provided their usual... well, all of the happenings mentioned above. When James and Paul attempted to strong-arm the Lakers -- and the New Orleans Pelicans -- in an effort to get Anthony Davis to Hollywood, James' young teammates, mentioned far and wide to be headed out the door in an effort to get Davis to LA, reacted by basically doing what anyone would have -- their respective games circled the drain. James suffered the first significant injury of his career, a torn left groin, and missed 27 games. Ingram (30 games), Ball (35) all Rondo (36) also missed significant time because of injuries. Ironically, headed into the season, it was expected the members The Island of Misfit Toys of whom the Lakers surrounded James last summer would be their undoing. Turns out, it was the other way around.
Our Effort: We hate to say we told you so, but... aw, who the heck are we kidding? We hit the proverbial nail on the head with this one. Even a visually impaired (have to be PC, at least according to commissioner Adam Silver, who after being prodded by that voice of level-headed, well-thought-out thinking, Draymond Green, wants NBA owners to be called "governors") squirrel finds a nut every great once in a while.