The Lakers are on fire, as of November 29 they’re 16-2 this season and not many teams will be able to slow them down. Some online sports betting sites even favor them to win the NBA Championship over teams like the Clippers, Bucks, Rockets and Raptors.
What makes the Lakers so tough to beat this season? Read on for the three-part answer.
LeBron James at Point Guard Last Thursday’s game in New Orleans proves why making LeBron James the starting point guard was the right move by the Lakers.
James sparked another Lakers comeback, helping come from behind and beat the Pelicans 114-110. The three-time NBA champion made sure the Lakers would end their four-game road trip with a perfect record and he reached another milestone in the process.
With his 29 points, James became the fourth player in league history to score over 33,000 career points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant. He also had 11 assists and five rebounds.
LeBron James leads the NBA, averaging 11.0 assists per game and many have been to Anthony Davis. The mood at the Smoothie King Center was tense because of Davis’ return but James is no stranger to hostile crowds and he even said that AD received some cheers.
“I mean they still love them [in New Orleans] you heard a lot of cheers as well… you heard some boos obviously, some people boo just because they don’t even know why they just want to be a part of the spectacle.”
Anthony Davis’ Effort at Both Ends of the Floor AD had his first game at the Smoothie King Center since the blockbuster trade that sent him from New Orleans to Los Angeles and he played inspired basketball, leading the Lakers with 41 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40 points in his first game against a former team.
Davis is averaging 26.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists 2.8 blocks and 1.6 steals in 34.9 minutes over 17 games. As I write this, he has a career average of 2.4 blocks in 483 career games but this season he has 48 blocks already,
Anthony Davis (plus-6.7 Box Plus/Minus) leads the Lakers in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and he is clearly a top 5 NBA MVP (plus-2.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and Defensive Player of the Year (plus-4.3 Defensive Box Plus-Minus) candidate.
“We want to make sure that when we come in, we have one goal in mind and that’s to come together and win a championship,” Anthony Davis told Heavy.com’s Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson in September.
“Do whatever I can to help this team win a championship. That’s the main goal. That’s our goal and we are going to come in with the mindset that we’re all thinking. This is the year.” Davis has clear aspirations and if he keeps playing like this the Lakers will go far in the playoffs.
Kyle Kuzma Getting Comfortable as a Sixth Man
Kyle Kuzma missed the entire preseason and the first four games of the season with a stress reaction in his foot but he is finding his way in his new role as a Sixth Man.
The Lakers are playing extremely well but all teams have areas of improvement and Kuzma, who is expected to play a major role in the offense as their third-best player, is still adjusting to coming off the bench, which is understandable.
Kuzma probably did not expect to be a Sixth Man after starting 68 of his 70 games last season and he wants to break through as soon as possible.
“No. I’m not patient at all,” Kuzma told Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times after Wednesday’s game in New Orleans. “That’s why sometimes it’s hard.”
The 24-year-old had 16 points, five rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes off the bench against the Pelicans and he is a huge piece of the puzzle for the Lakers. His numbers are down but it is a result of him having less playing time.
He averaged 18.7 points over 33.1 minutes last year and this season he is averaging a career-low 12.3 points in 23.0 minutes. Getting used to playing less has to be tough for him but he is playing his part so far, making 46.7 percent of his shots, 36.2 percent of his 3-point attempts and 77.8 percent of his free-throws.
“It’s tough sometimes, but you just have to be positive, have an even-keeled mind-set. But that’s easier said than done,” Kuzma said. “It’s something I’ve got to kind of figure out. But it isn’t anything I can’t handle.”
He knows it’s “part of sacrifice and trying to be on a winning team.” I see him thriving in this new role, the Lakers need him to keep playing at a high level when he enters the court.