If you’re reading this, you’ve probably made jokes about the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster. Yes, they have talented players, but most of them are older than all of Bill Belichick’s favorite sweatshirts. So, what LA must bank on is the fact they have veteran leadership that can lead them to a title.
LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers look completely different now than they did last season
What many people forget is that LeBron James’ Lakers squad had a pretty good roster last year. They were coming off an NBA championship and added guys like Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell to a team already consisting of James and Anthony Davis.
Injuries, though, played a significant role in them losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, and they have since changed their team almost entirely.
LA traded Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook. It then added several solid shooters in Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore, Malik Monk, and Kendrick Nunn. A couple of key players from their 2020 title-winning team, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, are returning as well.
So, the Lakers certainly built one of the biggest-named teams in basketball, but their age is a major question mark. They have nine players 32 years of age or older, including Anthony (37), James (36), Marc Gasol (36), Ariza (36), Rondo (35), Howard (35), Ellington (33), Westbrook (32), and Bazemore (32).
Given LA’s injury history with Davis and James last season, the team’s age is certainly concerning since older players typically get hurt more often and recover slower.
But that doesn’t seem to bother everyone. According to Jalen Rose, the Lakers have the “best team in basketball.”
The Lakers have ‘the best team in basketball,’ according to Jalen Rose
After the Lakers’ most recent addition of four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo, Rose — the Michigan Wolverines legend who averaged 14.3 points as an NBA player — appeared on his ESPN show, Jalen and Jacoby. While on it, he had high praise for his former college teammate, Rob Pelinka, and what he has accomplished this offseason.
“All I know is this: My former teammate Rob Pelinka running laps around the rest of the league as it relates to putting this roster together,” he said on the Aug. 31 episode. “I remember coming on this program for days and days, and weeks and weeks when people were trying to assassinate his character when he got the job. Now, all I see is the best team in basketball.”
He continued: “They still have LeBron James; they still have Anthony Davis, who will be the difference-maker against the Nets or against other teams that like to play small ball, and they added all of those guys. … The Lakers, in my opinion, are the clear-cut best team in basketball. If they stay healthy: LeBron James getting another ring this year.”
That’s a bold statement when the Brooklyn Nets have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. Oh, and neither the Lakers nor the Nets are the reigning champions, as the Milwaukee Bucks just won a title with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
But is Rose right?
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have the potential to be the NBA’s best team
Rose’s claim is correct in the sense that the Lakers can become the best team in basketball. We can’t say that just yet, though.
Their Big Three is explosive, as James and Westbrook can both attack the rim and score but are two of the best passers in the league as well. Davis, when healthy, is also an all-time great big man, and surrounding them are some great shooters as well as a couple of valuable veterans like Rondo and Howard.
However, health is a major part of being the best team in the league, so, for now, they don’t deserve that title until they can prove age is just a number for them.
For example, when healthy, the Nets had the best squad in the NBA last year, and it wasn’t even close. Brooklyn, though, was rarely at full strength, which played a role in Milwaukee winning the championship.
Without injuries, the Lakers’ Big Three can easily match Durant, Irving, and Harden. They also probably have a better supporting cast than the Nets, and a more talented roster, top to bottom, than any other team in the league. But their age could lead to key players getting hurt in critical moments, which may cost them a shot at a title.
So, to answer the question, “Is Rose Right?” Yes, the Lakers have the best team in basketball when healthy. But health will be their toughest opponent.