Are The Lakers Locks To Repeat As NBA Champions?
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Are The Lakers Locks To Repeat As NBA Champions?

After Rob Pelinka put reconstructed last year's championship, the Lakers are more dangerous than ever heading into the 2020-2021 season.

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Are The Lakers Locks To Repeat As NBA Champions?

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to repeat as NBA champions two months after bringing the franchise its 17th title, and 1st since the 2010-2011 season.

When the 2020-2021 season comes to a close, the Lakers will look to become the most illustrious franchise in NBA history - breaking a tie with the Boston Celtics for the most titles ever. With an NBA Finals win this season, the Lakers would become the first team in the 21st century to repeat as champions on three separate occasions, and the team is the prohibitive favorite one week prior to the beginning of the season.

After breezing through the Orlando bubble postseason, finishing off each of its three Western Conference opponents in five games before defeating the Miami Heat in six games in the Finals, its hard to imagine that the reigning champs could enter this season in better shape. At the center of it all is their head coach, Frank Vogel, and superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, the real credit for this team's status as a heavy favorite for this year's crown goes to their general manager, Rob Pelinka, who took last year's team that won a championship and made it better.

This time last season the Lakers had of the oldest teams in the entire Association, averaging 28.8 years of age among its 14-man opening day roster. This season, that number is now 27, thanks in large part to Pelinka replacing players like Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard with Dennis Schroeder and Montrezl Harrell, respectively. Guard Avery Bradly (30, who missed the Orlando restart) was not resigned, but his production should be replaced by the young Alex Caruso and the much younger (as in ten years younger) Talen Horton-Tucker who has been a star this preseason. All to create a younger team.

Los Angeles made a few veteran additions with the acquisitions of former Toronto Raptor Marc Gasol and Wesley Mathews, formally of the Milwaukee Bucks, to supplement the youth movement. Mathews will likely be looked upon as a replacement to Danny Green as his shooting approximates Green's. Even two years older, is an even better defender than Green is.

Gasol on the other hand, lacks the sheer athleticism of Howard and Javale McGee (now with the Cleveland Cavaliers), but is better suited for today's NBA because he is a threat on the perimeter even at 7'1". Their combination of unique skills and experience combined with those of LeBron James, now in his 18th season, make for a lethal leadership core for a team full young, budding pieces.

And those pieces have culminated into Pelinka's biggest accomplishment yet. Heading into this season, the Lakers are younger, have leadership, and are the deepest team in the league. Expected to play key roles off the bench are guys like the versatile Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris, key contributors to last year's title. Harrell, the reigning 6th Man of the Year; Mathews, a career starter who's production and efficiency should only increase in a bench role; and Caruso, who teams with a multitude of players, including Schroeder to allow James to operate off the ball, thus putting less of a toll on his near 36-year-old body. Add in Horton-Tucker, and Coach Vogel now has an embarrassment of riches to work with off the bench.

Pelinka's assembling of this younger, deeper team all will assist in prolonging the Lakers reign atop the NBA by helping in the preservation of LeBron James. Perhaps with the most miles of any NBA player, James's body should start to decline. Yet, he is still the driving force of the Lakers franchise, and part of the reason the Lakers should be favored to win this year's championship is that James will be relied upon the least he has ever been due to the depth of the team around him. This will eventually result in him being at his best come the postseason.

The Lakers annihilated the competition last season, and are exceptionally better heading into this one.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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