Potential Warning Signs
Another warning sign on the horizon that commentators have flagged up regarding 2021 is the potential break-up of the Lakers squad as it stands this season. Not least James’ main accomplice, the all-star power forward, Anthony Davis.
Davis is a free agent after this season and not a lock to sign up again, especially if the Lakers fall short this time. Also, key supporting role players such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, the reborn Superman Dwight Howard, and revelation Alex Caruso are not a guarantee to repeat this season’s magical form when they were able to complement their leader in all the right ways. If the break has derailed the runaway train that was the Lakers’ form this season and they do not win number 17, would the lack of a championship parade send star performer Davis to another show and the supporting cast keen to audition for roles elsewhere?
To understand the mind-set of the bench a little, fan-favorite guard Alex Caruso recently commented “I’m not taking this for granted. I’m 100%… to get one (NBA title) and then obviously if I got one I’m gonna try and get another one”.
Before the suspension of play in March, the Lakers had won the first 17 of their 19 games. They won 14 consecutive road games which was the 2nd-longest streak in franchise history.
They finished with 25 wins in their last 32 games, including significant defeats of championship rivals the Milwaukee Bucks and fellow Staples center residents, the Los Angeles Clippers. Truly this Lakers side was being led to a very likely NBA title by a man set to be the oldest league MVP since Karl Malone in 1999. It would appear that LeBron James’ ability to recapture his pre-lockdown form, then maintain it into next season, holds the key to the restoration of the purple and gold to the pinnacle of the sport. Can he do it?