The Lakers have been a smoldering mess by the beginning of the playoffs final season. LeBron James was run down. Anthony Davis saved getting harm. The outcome was a first-round loss to the upstart Phoenix Suns in a generational battle that went in favor of youth.
If that loss appeared to sign that the Lakers ought to think about getting a bit of youthful, properly, they lumbered off in the other way. James, working as de facto common supervisor, opened up his Brentwood manse to a sequence of potential recruits this summer season. The brand new-look Lakers now function the likes of Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, an previous good friend in Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers are — what’s the phrase? — skilled. If they’ll keep their appendages intact, they might problem for his or her second title in three seasons. However that’s an enormous if. 5 gamers on the roster are no less than 35 years previous, together with the 36-year-old James.
— Scott Cacciola
Los Angeles Clippers
There’s no timeline for Kawhi Leonard’s return from a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear sustained in opposition to Phoenix in final season’s Western Convention finals. The Clippers are nonetheless brimming with expertise with out him, however have they got sufficient to make noise within the West?
Paul George carried Los Angeles by means of almost two playoff rounds with out Leonard final season, dispelling rising beliefs that he may now not lead a staff by himself. This 12 months, he’ll want Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris to repeat their fruitful manufacturing from the final postseason.
Since then, the Clippers have traded Patrick Beverley for Eric Bledsoe, and Serge Ibaka is predicted again from damage. Though will probably be powerful to compensate for Leonard’s scoring and protection, Coach Tyronn Lue ought to have sufficient to work with. With out Leonard in a stacked West, although, the Clippers are prone to fall wanting an N.B.A. title, once more.
— Alanis Thames
Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson has not performed basketball in public in fairly some time. Within the roughly two years since he went down with a knee damage within the 2019 finals, the Raptors, Lakers and Bucks have gained championships, a pandemic has gripped the globe and Thompson ruptured his proper Achilles’ tendon in a exercise earlier than the beginning of final season, delaying his return by about one other 12 months. Golden State, it ought to be famous, has not gained many video games in his absence.