Life in Los Angeles as a Laker right now is fantastic. The franchise has reclaimed the NBA Championship for the first time since 2010. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are two of the Top-5 players in the NBA and are all set to get back at it come 2021.
However, things are only looking to get tougher in the Western Conference, if not the entire NBA. The Golden State Warriors will be looking to regroup and push stronger, given that they just missed their first NBA Playoffs since 2012.
The LA Clippers should be hungry, determined to prove themselves after their shambolic performance in the NBA Bubble. Failing to make yet another Western Conference Finals after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets, they’ll have a massive chip on their shoulder.
Teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and the NBA Finalists, Miami Heat, will be diving into the 2021 season with a thirst for blood and silverware.
The Lakers do have some underlying issues that this championship win has swept under the rug, squad depth and player performances are just the tip of the iceberg.
The organization has to address these if they want to return to the NBA Finals next season. Here are 3 things that the Los Angeles Lakers need to do to become even stronger.
#1: Lock down Anthony Davis
At first glance, this seems like a no-brainer. Anthony Davis was the missing piece that helped LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers lay waste to the NBA and claim the title this season.
But Davis is a free agent this season, with a player option. Should he choose not to activate that option, the Lakers need to give Anthony Davis whatever he wants in order to get him to stay.
After James is done with Los Angeles, Davis will be the point man for the ‘LakeShow’. Letting him get away for more money would be the biggest mistake that they could ever make.
Davis and James combined to lead the Lakers in all statistics in the regular season and the Playoffs, and losing Davis shouldn’t even be an option. Signing AD long-term is non-negotiable if the Lakers wish to mount yet another challenge for the championship.
#2: New blood
Other than the dynamic duo of ‘The King’ and ‘The Brow’, the rest of the Lakers squad is mediocre at best. The Lakers need to assess their season and take a look at which players should be kept around.
Players like Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Javale McGee, and Alex Caruso have made a great case for themselves to be in the mix. They each bring something unique to the team.
However, the likes of Markieff Morris, J.R Smith, Dion Waiters, and more were underwhelming at best. It is about time to start talking trades.
The Lakers have been rumored to reunite LeBron James with former NBA MVP Derrick Rose. The trade couldn’t go through last time, but they should definitely take another crack at it.
A trade package of Kyle Kuzma (hold your horses), Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley, and a first-round pick should be more than enough to get the job done.
While he may not be the MVP-calibre anymore, Derrick Rose still has a lot to offer. A back-court of him and Rajon Rondo would allow LeBron James to actually play Small Forward, without having to worry about setting up plays.
Other stars the Lakers could bring in are Joe Harris, Tristan Thompson, and even Jae Crowder. It isn’t just bringing in new talent, but getting rid of the underperformers. Speaking of which…
#3: Call-time on Kyle Kuzma
This may seem harsh, but it isn’t without reason. Kyle Kuzma has the potential to be a great player, but in a team that already has Anthony Davis, Kuzma’s minutes and progress have dwindled.
And the minutes he has gotten, he hasn’t performed well. He averaged about 13 points a game in the regular season, and 10 points in the Playoffs.
Compared to his average of 18.7 points a game last season, this has been a huge drop-off with the arrival of Davis. ‘Kuz’ could yet develop into a great player, but they cannot wait on him if they want to capitalize on the twilight years of LeBron James.
Time ticking on the Lakers’ mini-dynasty
The Lakers could have a small dynasty on their hands. They need to make the most of LeBron James while he is still playing at the highest level.
They can realistically win at least one more NBA Championship, but only if they make the right moves and surround Davis and James with the right players.
What should the Lakers do if they want to go back-to-back?