King James will deliver an NBA championship to Hollywood this year

The addition of Anthony Davis and the free agency signings made by Rob Pelinka will have the Lakers raising their 17th banner

Johnny Uricchio, Staff Writer

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The Los Angeles Lakers made the biggest splash this offseason acquiring Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster deal. In exchange for Davis, the Pelicans received Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks. With Davis as LeBron James’ sidekick, the improved shooting and defense will have the Lakers raising the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in June 2020.

With the acquisition of Davis, the Lakers are the only team that can say they have two of the top five players in the world. According to ESPN.com, Davis is ranked the fifth-best player, while James is ranked third. Having the best duo in the NBA puts the Lakers above every other team.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
President Barack Obama accepts a basketball from LeBron James during a ceremony to welcome the Miami Heat to honor the team and their 2012 NBA Championship victory, in the East Room of the White House Jan. 28, 2013.

James, 34, is coming off a season where he averaged 27.4  points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists, according to Fansided writer George Middleton. I predict he will be better this year because with the Lakers missing the playoffs last season, James got to finally rest as he made eight straight finals prior to coming to the Lakers.

Adding Davis allows the Lakers to manage James’ workload to avoid a major injury, as he missed 18 games last year after suffering a left groin injury in the teams 127-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. Heading into his 17th season, James has played a total of 46,235 regular season minutes and 10,049 postseason minutes, according to sportsnews.com writer Jordan Green. Having Davis gives the Lakers flexibility to manage James’ minutes in games or have him take a few games off because he has played over 70 games in 13 of his 16 seasons. This will allow James to have fresh legs when the postseason arrives.

 James is ready to take a backseat because in his media day interview, he said it makes no sense to not play through Davis.

“We all know how great Anthony Davis is and if we are not playing through Anthony Davis while he is on the floor, it makes no sense to have him on the floor, cause he is that great,” James said.

The 26-year-old has been an All-Star in six of his first seven seasons in the league, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in six seasons. Arguably the best big man, Davis’ biggest impact is on the defensive end. Davis has led the league in blocks three times so far in his career and has been selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team three times too, according to Middleton.

With Davis being a force on the defensive end, this will significantly improve the teams’ defense. The Lakers ranked 21st in defense at 113.5 points per game, according to Middleton. I expect that to be different with Davis because the Lakers now have a shot blocker who can always protect the rim. Along with that, Davis has the ability to defend multiple positions and switch pick and rolls because of his athleticism. Davis’ impact on the defensive end will lead the Lakers to a championship.

The team also improved its defense by adding Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard. All three veterans have made NBA Defensive Team a combined eight times. 

Green and Bradley both provide versatility because they have the ability to defend multiple positions. Bradley will match up with the opposing teams’ point guards, while Green will defend wing players such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or James Harden. Howard, who currently has the most blocks by an active player with  2,051 which currently ranks 17th all-time according to ESPN.com, gives the Lakers another rim protector.

General manager Rob Pelinka upgraded the teams’ shooting this offseason as well. The Lakers were the second-worst three-point shooting team in the league, shooting 33% overall from behind the arc, according to Fadeaway World’s writer Amadou Sow. 

Green and Bradley also shoot the three at a high percentage. Green shoots a career 40% from three, while Bradley is a career 36 % shooter from deep, according to Middleton.

Point guard Quinn Cook and small forward Jared Dudley were the other free agency additions Pelinka made to improve the shooting. Cook shot 41% from three last year with the Golden State Warriors and Dudley is a career 39% shooter from three in his 12-year career, according to Middleton. I like what Pelinka did because he addressed the team’s main issue of shooting because now the floor will be spread for James. If James gets doubled, he will be confident in kicking it out because he has knockdown shooters around him

New Lakers head coach Frank Vogel praised Pelinka for the roster he constructed.

“I love the way the team has been put together by Rob Pelinka,” Vogel said. “I really do. Obviously, it starts with the two pillars in Anthony Davis and Lebron James, just two of the game’s best. And then the surrounding parts, that’s what I’m equally excited about. You want to put as many shooters around those guys as you can and we have an army of shooters. You want to put lengthy defenders around those guys to make sure we have a great defense and we have JaVale, Dwight and obviously AD as well.”

The Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers are the two teams entering the season as the favorites to win the NBA Championship. According to Westgate, the Clippers are +350 and the Lakers are right behind them at +400. NBA executives polled by Ethan Strauss of the Athletic are giving the edge towards the Clippers because of the questions of fit and chemistry issues with the Lakers, according to Bleacher Report writer Timothy Rapp.

James will make up for the Lakers missing the postseason this year by leading them to their 17th championship because of the moves the front office made. At the start of the season according to Westgate, the Clippers are +350 and the Lakers are right behind him at.