The Key Players for the Lakers Success
The Los Angeles Lakers recently added another Championship to their already impressive trophy cabinet. Considering this was easily the most unique NBA season in history, the Lakers weren’t even the pundits favorites to win for a while.
With teams like the Clippers, the Bucks, and outside favorites like the Heat and even the Celtics, all given chances to win the league, which Lakers players sealed the 17th title for the most successful franchise.
You can’t write this post without mentioning one of, if not the best player to ever step onto a court, Lebron James. What can’t the man do at this point? He can score, pass, make runs when needed, defend, he has proven again that he is the whole package.
Finishing the season with an average of 25.3 points and a league topping 10.2 assists. He was also voted into his 16th straight All-Star team and a record 16th selection to the All-NBA team.
It was abundantly clear how hard Lebron was hit by the death of Kobe Bryant, as well as the rest of the Laker franchise. His ability to lead the team, even after a tragedy like that, was mind blowing. Easily the league’s MVP, and cementing his spot in the Hall of Greats.
Anthony Davis is another player that turned out to be a complete game changer for the Lakers. With a very intricate deal to get him there, including the transfer of over a half a dozen players, including draft pick options, Davis proved he was worth it.
He finished second in the DPOY voting, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. He also received the votes for his 7th consecutive All-Star Game, as well as receiving selections for the NBA First Team and the All-Defense First Team.
Another player that most definitely proved his worth was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Having spent much of his time at the Lakers coming off the bench, he started every game after the restart and ended up being the perfect replacement for Avery Bradley, who had decided to opt out of the restart.
He ended up blocking his opponents best guard or shooter, as well as giving his team the spacing they needed to score and dominate the game. His 37.8% shooting from beyond the arc also didn’t go unnoticed.
Dwight Howard also showed his worth as a bench player. Yes, he may be on the fringe at the moment, but the Lakers used him perfectly, averaging 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in just under 18 minutes of play.
He may not have played the most pivotal role in the Championship win, but having him on the court allowed the Lakers to play a more defensive style, protecting leads, and shutting down their opponents. Howard played the part of a defensive wall perfectly. He was also the starting center in the finals, which ended up being the cherry on top for his season.
One of the most criticized players of the season became the leader of the Lakers “second unit”. Rajon Rondo came back from injury, and immediately showed that his years of experience did nothing but benefit the Lakers.
Yes, he did come off the bench many times, but he was able to be a leader when Lebron was on the bench, and ended up taking the pressure off of James when he needed the most. Rondo stepped up to the plate when he was needed, even though he did have a limited role during the Championship run.
Markief Morris also showed his strength as a brilliant bench player. He was able to give the Lakers the spacing they needed with his shooting, with a 42% success rate with 3 pointers, on 3.3 attempts.
He may not have been used as much as he would have hoped, but he was a great extra body on the court, as well as giving the Lakers options in their small-team set up. He ended up being a powerful and reliable super-sub for the team.
As mentioned above, the passing of Bryant had serious knock-on effects on the Lakers. Many believed that the team would struggle, mixing grieving with the bubble and the new style the league took on.
They were also not stand out favorites, with other teams taking the top spots for Championship favorites. However, Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, and everybody in between from definite starters to bench players, all stepped up at the vital time.
As the player with the most pressure on his shoulders, and the weight of the loss of a mentor and very close friend, Lebron James is without doubt the standout player of the season, as well as the Lakers.
His ability and skill is not diminishing with age, and this strange and different season showed how easily he can adapt to the unexpected. It’s very difficult to say that he isn’t the best player in the NBA right now.
Every member of the Lakers team had a role to play in this Championship victory, whether they were starters or they came off the bench. The team that won the franchises 17th title will certainly not be quickly forgotten.