Los Angeles Lakers 2020 Playoff Preview
This season the Los Angeles Lakers finally rose back to the top, after several years of missing the playoffs. They traded Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram to the New Orleans Pelicans for superstar Anthony Davis. Pairing him with LeBron James proved to be a winning formula.
After Kawhi Leonard picked the Los Angeles Clippers, his Toronto Raptors teammate Danny Green picked the Lakers. The team then signed various players to small deals to fill out the roster.
The Lakers gelled and formed a chemistry that nobody expected would happen so quickly. Things for the Purple and Gold were looking good.
In January, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna passed away in a helicopter crash along with 7 others. The rest of the emotional season would be dedicated to Kobe. Everything in LA had changed.
This Lakers team was showing cracks, and the Orlando version of the club didn’t exactly inspire. The offense in the Bubble was disjointed.
The Lakers face the scorching hot Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening round of the postseason.
Biggest Strength- Anthony Davis
The biggest driver of the Lakers’ success this season was Anthony Davis. One night he may score 50, another night he may have a career-high in blocks, another night he may have a double-double, and the list goes on. He was a force to be reckoned with all year long.
We could even make the case that he had an MVP season. He’s a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. The Lakers need him to continue his dominance throughout their playoff run.
He seemed to struggle a little during the Bubble games, even though he did put up great numbers. But AD vowed to improve (and he will).
The Lakers need to utilize him more and get him the ball and allow him to work defenders in the paint like he’s used too.
Biggest Weakness- Slow Starts and Missing Avery Bradley’s Defense
The Lakers have had far too many games in which they start quarters very slowly. They don’t get into a good rhythm, and they find themselves down early. During the playoffs, LA cannot afford to do this. Teams will be out for blood.
When Avery Bradley decided to opt-out of joining the team in the bubble, the Lakers ended up losing their best defender. Bradley is known for his lockdown defense and is one of the main reasons why the Lakers were so good this year. Though the Lakers’ defense was fine in Orlando, Bradley was sorely missed.
The team will need players to step up, especially on the perimeter. This will be of paramount importance against the likes of Dame Lillard and Cj McCollum.
Team’s X-Factor - Consistent Offense and Kyle Kuzma
In order for the Lakers to have a deep playoff run, they need their offense to be consistent. They can’t miss wide open 3’s, but by the same token, they need to make some noise in the paint as well.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James will get their points; it’s up to others to find their offense in whatever way they can. Kyle Kuzma is the logical next guy up.
In the bubble seeding games, Kuzma had a few scoring outbursts, rebounded well, and looked quite ok on defense. Kuzma has been ridiculed a lot, but he’s been resilient and showed Lakers fans he’s the real deal and will help the team win.
Player to Watch - Talen Horton-Tucker
During the bubble seeding games, coach Frank Vogel was able to find more playing time for rookie Talen Horton-Tucker. The 19-year old showed he should get more playing time.
In the four games he played, he scored a total of 34 points, along with seven rebounds, four assists, seven steals, and one block. Impressive numbers for a rookie who hadn’t seen adequate playing time. (In fact, the bulk of any basketball action this year came in the G-League, where he indeed shined.)
THT could play his way into the playoff rotation. What a story that would be.
Estimated Playoff Run - Finals
Any team that has LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the helm will always be a contender. This team is expected to get to the Finals. They will need to battle along the way.
The Clippers are also favored to win it all. Basketball fans are ready to see both Los Angeles teams finally meet in the conference finals and battle each other for a shot at the championship. While some may say the Clippers have more talent and the better shot to win, the Lakers should not be overlooked.
A team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis will not go down without a fight and will do everything they must to make it to the end to hoist up the Larry O’Brien trophy.