Source: Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports, via Reuters
At this moment last season the Lakers were doomed to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season, year one in the Lebron era was a disappointment. Luke Walton didn't pan out as Head Coach, LeBron looked tired and old, LA’s young talent had some growing pains to work out and the organization as a whole was flustered and beaten down. Well, what a difference a year makes.
This past weekend the Lakers sent a message to the NBA. They are gunning for a championship. The Lakers faced the NBA's best record, having two MVP candidates duelling on the court. The Lakers duo of LeBron and Davis combined for 67 points. LA couldn't contain Giannis but they had everyone else locked down for the win.
The win was big for two reasons; for one LA beat the best team in the NBA and two, the Lakers for the first time since 2013 clinched a playoff spot. The longest playoff drought in franchise history ended. A drought that had the Lakers actually being left out of the spotlight.
The next night they played against their LA nemesis, the Clippers. Remember the Clippers made big headlines this past summer signing the hottest free agent in Kawhi Leonard and getting Paul George from the Thunder. Despite trailing at the half the Lakers had a massive 3rd quarter on route to a 63 point second half nabbing the W. The Lakers also gave the Clippers their first loss of the season where their entire roster is healthy.
The Lakers won 4 straight games and are 1st in the western conference. Last year they looked in peril and hopeless adding an ageing star who might have been done being an elite player, but all those questions and doubts have been silenced with their success this season. The Lakers looked better than the Clippers and at this moment, LeBron looks like the better player over Kawhi.
With the acquisition of Anthony Davis in the off-season, the Lakers took a massive gamble shipping off young talent like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, not knowing if Davis will stay after this season. To this day it's still in question whether Davis will re-sign with LA.
Luckily the trade has paid off so far. Davis and LeBron together have a great connection on and off the court. Both players have been crucial to their team's success this year. While LeBron leads the team in points at just over 27, Davis isn't that far behind him in scoring average and is also averaging close to 10 rebounds while shooting over 50 percent. Both players are impossible to guard, making it hard for opposing teams to slow down the Laker’s two-headed monster.
LeBron looks like he should be in the MVP conversation, letting the NBA know that at age 35 he's not slowing down. Somehow LeBron has defied the power of ageing. As healthy as he is, LeBron still reigns supreme in the NBA. His assist at over 10 games is the most of his career. His last 8 games, he's averaged over 33 points, over 10 assists during that same span and the Lakeshow has looked absolutely dominate.
On top of that, LeBron took home last week's Western Conference Player of the Week, his third of the season, becoming the first Laker since Kobe Bryant in 2012-13 to earn three weekly honours. The Lakers are 7-1 in the last eight games LeBron has played and 9-1 in their last 10.
It’s only March so maybe we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves, but the Laker’s current stretch has proved they are in the Larry OB conversation. And what a Hollywood script in the making this is, what better way to honour Kobe than to raise another championship banner. We still have a few months left in the season, but what a season it's been for the city of angels.