LeBron James has chosen to sign a four-year, 154 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The megastar’s deal comes as no surprise; many have been speculating a move to Los Angeles for quite some time now.
This move happens to be another case of a superstar-caliber player making a major splash during the summer. Examples of this include Kevin Garnett’s move to form a big three in Boston in 2007, LeBron James’ decision to join the Heat In 2010, and Kevin Durant’s choice to create the ultimate super-team in Golden State during the 2016 offseason.
Typically these moves are inspired by one thing: the intention to win. In fact, every team mentioned ended up acquiring at least three all-star players and winning at least one championship.
This year’s major move by LeBron doesn’t fit the mold. The Lakers, the NBA’s premier franchise, have been one of the worst teams in the league over the last five years. Despite bringing in some tremendous young talent last year, the Lakers only managed to finish the regular season with a 35-47 record. Although this is a decent record for such a young team, this combined with LeBron James’ lack of another current all-star definitely raises a question. Why did the four-time MVP choose to sign with the Lakers?
One reason is financial. LeBron envisions Los Angeles as a place to grow his brand and to give his family an opportunity to do things that they couldn’t do in any other city.
Additionally, LeBron is willing to take a calculated risk and bet on himself. He understands the level of young talent that this roster has to offer, and recognizes how great of a player he is individually. This is the same LeBron that carried arguably his worst supporting cast to the NBA Finals last year.
Fortunately for Lakers fans, this team has a chance to be far superior to the Cavaliers team LBJ was playing for just a few months ago. The Lakers’ young core, consisting of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball, could debatably be the best in basketball. They also drafted Moritz Wagner and Svi Mykhailiuk this year.
Along with this young core, the Lakers also added four-time all-star point guard Rajon Rondo, two guard Lance Stephenson, and rim protector JaVale McGee, players who have all made deep postseason runs earlier in their careers.
So the question now becomes, ‘How good will the Lakers be this year?’
With a healthy LeBron James, they should be at minimum a 50 win team in the Western Conference. Last year, LeBron James posted the fourth highest nERD rating in all of the NBA at 15.5 (a player’s nERD rating represents how many games above or below .500 an average team would be if they added him to its roster). This record would have put them as the #3 seed in the playoffs last year.
What’s even more reassuring for Lakers fans is LeBron’s thirteen consecutive postseason appearances and eight consecutive NBA Finals runs. This means that the Lakers just received the most reliable and dominant player in all of the NBA, one that brings them an almost guaranteed appearance in this year’s postseason. LeBron, turning 34 years old this season, does raise some concerns about how much longer the all-star can continue his extraordinary run. However, LeBron’s postseason run last year was one of the greatest in NBA history; he averaged 33 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game, and scored 40 or more points eight times. It doesn’t seem like LeBron will slow down anytime soon.
Unfortunately, the Golden State Warriors could cut off the championship hype. Over the last four years, the Warriors have done just about everything one could possibly dream of for a franchise. They have acquired five all-stars, broke the regular season win-loss record, and won three NBA championships. Despite LeBron’s fierce competition, his resume only includes one defeat of the super-team in the postseason, and that was before they signed Kevin Durant, who boasts back to back Finals MVP awards, and the all-star DeMarcus cousins.
If anyone can help the Lakers beat the Warriors, it’s LeBron James. The Lakers also have a tremendous amount of young, strategic players that have the ability to space the floor for the King to operate.
The most exciting news, however, is that the Lakers may have a chance to land another notable player in next year’s free agency. Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler are all elite players who will be available for the team to pursue next summer. So, regardless of if the Los Angeles Lakers win a championship or not this year, the future looks bright in L.A. Now with LeBron, the Lakers undoubtedly have their next great franchise player that can maybe bring back some championship glory to Laker Land.