After a busy offseason rebuilding the roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are positioned to make a strong NBA title push. Star forward LeBron James will be a guiding force toward potentially capturing the franchise’s 18th championship. However, James‘ most prominent media critic, Skip Bayless, took another opportunity to chastise him by using Brookly Nets star Kevin Durant.
LeBron James hampered by injuries in his 18th NBA campaign
The Lakers’ quest to repeat as NBA champions quickly became hampered by injuries throughout the roster.
It first began with Anthony Davis dealing with a nagging leg injury, leading him to suffer a calf ailment related to his Achilles that forced him to miss two months. Los Angeles took another massive hit after James became sidelined for six weeks due to a right high ankle sprain.
The 36-year-old had been putting together an MVP-caliber campaign before the injury. However, the two significant losses nearly dropped Los Angeles out of the playoffs before he managed to return in the final two weeks of the regular season.
The two stars demonstrated notable hindrance from their respective injuries, and Davis suffered a quad injury in the first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles couldn’t overcome the situation, leading to an early postseason departure.
As James and the Lakers head toward a potentially promising campaign, the star forward’s biggest hater delivered another verbal shot.
LeBron James’ biggest hater chides him again, saying he ‘isn’t even in the same stratosphere’ as Kevin Durant
As James heads into his 19th season, he has an opportunity to vie for his fifth regular-season MVP award.
With the season opener less than a month away, the early betting odds hold Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic as the slight front-runner (+400). Durant and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid (+700) sit tied behind him for the second-best odds.
Meanwhile, James currently stands with the seventh-best betting odds (+1400), leading his biggest media critic, Skip Bayless, to bash him again.
“LeBron isn’t even in the same stratosphere as KD,” Bayless said on FS1’s Undisputed. “And LeBron is actually above his teammate, Anthony Davis, as an MVP favorite?! He shouldn’t be above AD for MVP!”
Bayless couldn’t hold back at the opportunity to put the 36-year-old beneath Durant while taking it a step further by mentioning his Lakers teammate, Anthony Davis, who currently holds the 12th-best MVP odds (+2500). It’s an unnecessary shot toward the four-time NBA champion, but Durant certainly has a legitimate shot to capture his second regular-season MVP award.
In his first season back from a torn Achilles tendon, the Nets star averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists while shooting 53.7% from the floor and 45.0% from 3-point range. In the playoffs, Durant took it up another notch with James Harden and Kyrie Irving sidelined or hampered by injuries.
He averaged 34.3 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 51.4% from the field and 40.2% from 3-point range. His postseason run featured a pair of 40-point outings in the second-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, where he nearly single-handedly lifted Brooklyn to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Although Bayless used the opportunity to take a stern undercut toward James, Durant may have an MVP-caliber campaign ahead.
Lakers are primed for a strong NBA title push
James can certainly make a strong bid for his fifth regular-season MVP award, but the focus is on the grander goal of contending for a fifth NBA title.
Los Angeles spent the offseason revamping the roster around him and Davis by acquiring star point guard Russell Westbrook. The team also filled out the supporting cast with proven shooters and versatile defenders. Although the front office added several older players, Los Angeles holds plenty of experience that could prove vital to the NBA title push.
James will need to be the driving force alongside Davis to guide the franchise forward toward the lofty expectations. Meanwhile, Westbrook possesses the opportunity to provide an element the team has lacked over the last few seasons at the point guard position behind his scoring and passing.
These factors set the table for the Lakers to contend for a championship this upcoming season.