Are the Lakers’ Struggles Something to Worry About?

Yarden Leshem, Contributing Writer

During the 2018 off season, the Lakers signed LeBron James for a whopping $138 million deal over four years. They also signed Lance Stephenson, Javale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Michael Beasley. With all these signings, fans automatically looked at the Lakers as the new-but-old Showtime Lakers. This is an absurd claim and a huge expectation from a team with only one All-Star in LeBron James. The Showtime Lakers had both Magic Earvin Johnson and the all-time scoring leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

To give some reference, the 2000 Lakers team was hesitant to be called the Dream Team. That team, may I remind you, had one — if not the most — dominant center in his prime, Shaq, and of course Kobe Bryant. So why is this Lakers team being compared to Showtime?

The Lakers have been bad for so long the fans want to fool themselves by thinking that they are now the team to beat. There is too much talk of a championship from the Lakers, who are in their first year, while the Warriors dynasty is still up and running. Quick reminder, the Warriors have a five All-Star starting lineup when healthy, and have no plan on stopping to get their 4th ring in five years. Fans also forget that the Western Conference is nothing like the Eastern, and that every team that will make the playoffs in the West are most likely better than the 5th seed and lower that are in the current Eastern Conference. This is what made LeBron’s eight Final appearances easier than it would have been in the West.

Fans are also forgetting what it takes to build a team. You cannot just sign All-Stars in free agency and expect them to become a championship team. The Lakers and their fan base should know this all too well, having one of the most notorious failures of a super team to occur in the NBA. Luckily, they didn’t entirely make the same mistake, keeping their young pieces. Lonzo, Kuzma, Ingram, and Hart have all shown great potential, and having a veteran in LeBron will help the maturing process and add experience to everyone’s belt. This route will lead to long term success, as the Lakers have young pieces for the long run, seeing as LeBron is, after all, 33 years old. Watching the games, it seems that the veteran status of LeBron and Rondo has been put into effect and is working.

I cannot stress enough that championship talk shouldn’t begin until the Lakers get their chemistry together. For most of the players on the team, this is their first time playing together, so they need time before they can click. Give Luke Walton time, give the Lakers time, and I do believe they can make a playoff run as their team seems to be a playoff team. The veterans won’t work too hard until playoff time comes, but then they should click and start playing as a unit. LeBron is known for this pattern, and every time people have panicked with struggles in the Cavaliers, come playoff time, and LeBron would patch it all up and carry them to the finals. I don’t see why this time should be any different. The Western Conference is much tougher though, and it will take them time before they can be known as championship contenders.