Saturday, June 29, 2019
Saturday Slam: Will the Los Angeles Lakers survive the NBA playoffs?
By unloading Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards in addition to having Anthony Davis waive his $4M trade clause, the Los Angeles Lakers have freed up $32M in cap space. As a result, they now a chance to land one more max player to join LeBron James and Davis.
With James and Davis alone, the Lakers have a much more competitive team than they did last season. If they can add one more max level player (such as Kawhi Leonard), there's a possibility that we'll see them in the NBA Finals next season. Especially since the Golden State Warriors are hobbled.
That all said, the Lakers shouldn't be banking on a 2020 championship just yet. For one thing, we don't know who they'll add in free agency. Secondly, health is a major concern. James is 34 years old and played in just 55 games last season due to various injuries including a hamstring. While some of the games he missed were due to caution, it's no secret that he is getting older and has a lot of miles on his legs.
As for Davis, he's much younger (26 years old) but also not as durable. He has never played 82 games in any NBA season and on average misses a shade over 16 games a year. What's particularly alarming is that Davis has never made a deep run in the playoffs. Given his injury woes, it's far from a guarantee that he'll be holding up come late May and June.
The bottom line with the Lakers is that as good as they project to be on paper, it's hard to predict how well they'll navigate the injury bug. If this were a shorter season with fewer playoff games, I would like the Lakers' chances to go the distance. But when we're talking about an 82 game season and a playoff format consisting of four rounds all of which are a seven game series, I don't know if I like their chances. The NBA playoffs are a grind and I'm far from convinced that the Lakers have what it takes to survive.
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