Lakers look to repeat

There has been a flurry of team changes in this year’s NBA abbreviated offseason thus far, with numerous unexpected signings and trades. Among the indisputable winners of the offseason are the Los Angeles Lakers, who are in a good position to secure back-to-back championship wins with their new additions.

The Lakers managed to acquire the reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell from the rival Clippers; Dennis Schroder, who was runner-up for the Sixth Man Award behind Harrell; veteran center Marc Gasol and veteran guard Wesley Matthews.

Although the Lakers lost a couple key players via trade and free agency, including Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Danny Green and Dwight Howard, they re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Markieff Morris, who both played important roles in the team’s championship run. But most significantly, superstar Anthony Davis re-signed to a five-year, $190 million maximum contract and Lebron James signed to a two-year $85 million extension.

Schroder was a great pickup for the Lakers at the point guard position as they added a young scorer, who averaged 18.9 points per game for the Thunder last season. The frontcourt also had clear improvements as Howard and Javale McGee were replaced with new additions Harrell and Gasol. 

Harrell will bring his hustling ability inside the paint, while Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year, will improve the Lakers’ already-exceptional defense. Gasol can also knock down shots from downtown, shooting 38.5 percent from the three in his last season with the Raptors.

In addition, Matthews is an excellent replacement for Green’s spot as a 3-and-D player with his shooting and defense. He has a 38.1 career three-point percentage during his 10 years in the NBA. All losses and gains considered, it is safe to say that the Lakers improved their roster during this offseason.

Although it is apparent that competition will be stiff in both the Western and Eastern Conferences, as the former always has and the latter has gained talent, at this point, the roster points to the Lakers ultimately repeating as NBA champions. The season begins Dec. 22.

There isn’t a team that can realistically beat the Lakers in a seven-game series from the West, as shown in the playoffs earlier this year. Prior to Klay Thompson’s season-ending Achilles injury, the Warriors were a team that could have potentially beat the Lakers, but the chances that they’ll make a championship comeback are now slim-to-none. 

The Clippers, with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, will look for a redemption season with the addition of Serge Ibaka, but I am not convinced they can get past the Lakers after their embarrassing playoff performance last season. 

In the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks will also be looking to prove themselves with the addition of Jrue Holiday after falling to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Depending on how superstar duo Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant perform together on the Nets, they have the greatest potential to prevent the Lakers from hanging up another championship banner.