Las Vegas, Nevada 2021-10-13 21:46:00 –
Apple HW Chiu / AP
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 6:46 pm
It may be a unique list.
The Los Angeles Lakers have four of the NBA’s top seven active scorers. Top 3 major active rebounders. Three of the top four active leaders in Assist. Three of the top five blocks. Three of the top five wins. Four of Steel’s Top Six. They could even put five Olympic gold medalists on the floor and another on the bench at a time.
Given all that talent, it’s quite possible that LeBron James will take the lead, with six players on the roster and at least one day in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s easy to see why the Lakers are a fashionable choice. Appeared as a representative of the Western Conference at the NBA Finals this season.
“I’m excited about what’s available for us this year,” said James. “But every day is a process. Every day, it’s all about traveling, and then you just work.”
James and Anthony Davis are back from the team that won the 2020 NBA Championship. It’s been two seasons, but only 12 months ago. Talen Horton-Tucker was also on the team, but didn’t make it to the NBA Finals. Everyone else is new to the Lakers, or some kind of new.
Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard belonged to the team and returned after leaving the Lakers. Added to this offseason were Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and DeAndre Jordan.
Anthony, Trevor Ariza, James, Howard and Rondo are all over 35 and Wayne Ellington (another newcomer) will be 34 in November.
“A story about our age, I laugh a little at it,” James said. “I really laugh. I’m not just saying that.”
Even with proven talent, the Lakers have no key to returning to the finals. Western appearance in expected finishing order:
1. Los Angeles Lakers. Old, yes. Yes, that’s fine. Really good … I know the time. James persuaded players like Anthony and Westbrook to run with him. This suggests that he is preparing for the title run.
2. Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton made it work last season, but Sands won’t surprise anyone this year. Monty Williams pushed all the right buttons last season.
3. Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell’s ankle played a major role in the end of the Utah playoffs last season. He rarely goes, and with him, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles have no reason why jazz shouldn’t think of a title.
4. Denver Nuggets. Michael Malone remains one of the league’s underrated coaches. MVP Nikola Jokić is active all over the world, Jamal Murray is back and Denver’s defense gives him a chance every night.
5. Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry had a good MVP level last year. Klay Thompson’s return will be a big lift whenever that happens. Andre Iguodala is back in the final season. There’s nothing I don’t like here.
6. Dallas Mavericks. Luka Doncic is getting better and better. New coach Jason Kidd, who won the title as a player in Dallas, will give the team a ton of points. Wildcard: Kristaps Porzingis.
To play in
7. Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers may do enough to get into the playoff mix and then regain a healthy and well-rested Kawhi Leonard from knee rehab for a stretch run. A terrifying proposal for your opponent.
8. Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard is as good as a scorer and leader in the game and will definitely benefit from being part of the Olympic team this summer. The blazer must-must-must-must leap.
9. San Antonio Spurs. The easiest thing Greg Popovich could do was to win his Olympic gold medal, retire and enjoy wine for the rest of his life. He came back for a reason. Don’t forget the Spurs.
10. Memphis Grizzlies. Steven Adams, pick and roll with Ja Morant, should lead to automatic scoring. And Morant is definitely on the road to the elite. But the Grizzlies are still very young.
Face long odds
11. New Orleans Pelican. Zion Williamson is the key to everything. If he is great, they will be higher.
12. Sacramento Kings. This is too low for Kings. Then again, the West is so good.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves. This is the fate of T’Wolves — unless they are the winners of Ben Simmons Trade Sweepstakes.
14. Houston Rockets. Jalen Green will be competing for the top rookie with a huge number.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder. At some point, the basketball world learns what happens to all these draft topics.
What you need to know
FANDUEL SAYS …
The Lakers are also listed in the FanDuel Sportsbook As for the NBA title odds, the Lakers are the second choice after Brooklyn, so it’s a choice from the West. The other top five NBA Finals candidates in the West (Golden State, Utah, Phoenix, Clippers) based on FanDuel odds.
If you’re just betting on the West Race, the order is a bit different, with the Lakers, Golden State, and Clippers top five in second place, followed by Utah and Phoenix.
The NBA has never had four consecutive international MVPs. If a couple of western stars do what many expect, it may change this year. Milwaukee’s Janis Adetokumpo will win in 2019 and 2020, Jokić will win in 2021, and Jokić and Doncic will have to be considered as top candidates in 2022.
To the last
The last shot James took during the 2020-21 regular season scored 25 points with a 6:41 layup remaining at the season finale with New Orleans. He was crushed after 6 seconds and did not return. The importance is as follows: This brings James to an average of 25.02 points in the season, extending the season’s record winning streak of 25 points for the 17th consecutive time. Had he not got that last basket, he would have averaged 24.98 points and (technically anyway) the winning streak would have ended.
3’S REMAIN WILD
Utah set an NBA record last season with an average of 16.7 three points per game. That is, the top seven entries on that list in NBA history are all filled by the Western team: Houston (16.1 in 2018-19), Portland (15.7 last season), Houston (2019-20). 15.6), Houston (15.3-18 in 2017), Dallas (15.1 in 2019-20), Golden State (14.6 last season).
West vs. East
The champion may be from Milwaukee and the Eastern Conference, but the Western Conference played against the other side of the league last season. The West team won 54% of the match against the East. This is the 21st time that the West has beaten the East for the 12th consecutive year in the last 22 years.