It’s over for the Lakers
It’s only 15 games into the season, but Stephen A. Smith believes the Lakers will never win another title with James. He made the bold prediction in First Take, after debating Keyshawn Johnson on who would win their first title for L.A.: Russell Westbrook or Odell Beckham Jr. Smith also claimed the Warriors would win it all this season.
“Warriors going to the Finals. Let me say something else: I think LeBron has won his last title. I think it’s over. … It’s not LeBron’s fault. LeBron is gonna be LeBron. He gonna come back. He gonna do what he gonna do. … They ain’t winning no chip.”
Stephen A Smith being Stephen A Smith on this one hot take. He’s made similar controversial and borderline ridiculous assessments, and predictions in the past but not all of them happened. Still, the man gets paid millions to make these statements to get the online world buzzing.
Does he have a point? Is LeBron not winning again ever? Is it the end of his dreams to equal Kobe Bryant’s five rings? Let’s take a look at what the team needs to do to still compete for the title.
Can the Lakers still win this season?
The Lakers sit in 7th place in the Western Conference, a far cry from their expected standing before the season started, given the marquee names they added to the roster. They have lost twice to the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the many signs indicating the team is not where it wanted to be at this point. Can they still win a championship, given the early season struggles? The answer is yes, but they need to start shaping up now.
Russell Westbrook needs to cut down on his turnovers. Without James directing the point, the point guard duties go to Rajon Rondo and Brodie. Increased turnovers reflect chemistry issues on the team, which is expected because players are still learning to play with each other.
Anthony Davis needs to assert himself more in the absence of James. He’s aware that the team is nowhere close where it needs to be, but for his part, AD needs to start knocking down his shots consistently. This season, he is only making 20 percent of his shots beyond the arc. With Westbrook and James as attackers/slashers, the team needs to space the floor well, and Davis has the skills to become a designated kick-out shooter for L.A.
Things will be clearer for the Lakers when James returns to the lineup. For sure, LeBron cannot wait to be back and prove to critics such as Stephen A. Smith that the Lakers can still win despite the early struggles this season.