Why the Lakers Are Off to a Hot Start!

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As of January 22nd, 2020, almost halfway into the National Basketball Association (NBA) season, the Los Angeles Lakers are off to a 34 (wins) and 9 (loses) record. With new head coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers are looking like a championship contender. 

Lebron James and Anthony Davis have obviously been leading this Lakers team by storm, but the key to this team is their bench. Although no one on the bench has had massive career increases in stats, most have had decreases, that doesn’t seem to matter. This team plays as one and are all bought into the system. They listen to each other, and you can see the way they flow together on the court. Alex Caruso is one player who has shocked the world this season with his high-energy and powerful dunks, creating a huge social media buzz. Dwight Howard stated, “But the one thing that’s missing is a championship, and being part of something elite. What we have here is a championship-quality team. Elite players. Elite mindset. So I just have to do my job.” (Orange County Register, www.ocregister.com)

Doing your job: the most important thing in sports, but especially in the NBA. Every player is assigned to a role when they’re on the court, and they all follow the gameplan because they know it’s for the benefit of the team. There are no egos on this team, and this is why they are one of the best teams in the NBA. You could debate the Lakers had the best offseason in the whole league. They made smart moves by surrounding Lebron James with shooters like Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, and Troy Daniels. This year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has shot a career-high 41.8% from the three-point line, which is a massive increase compared to his career average of 35%. He has been a big help to this free-flowing Lakers team. JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard have also helped by being big forces in the paint, combining for 3.1 blocks per game. (Stats from www.espn.com.)

Now let’s talk about the cornerstones of this Lakers team. Lebron James has been playing an estimated three fewer minutes per game (MPG) than his career average (38.5 MPG), and he hasn’t had to carry the offensive load every night because of his partner in crime, Anthony Davis. Lebron is currently leading the league in assists with exactly 11 per game, which is also a career-high for him. Speaking about Lebron’s partner in crime, Anthony Davis has been leading this Lakers defense with 2.6 blocks a game (Tied for 2nd in the NBA) and leading in steals for the team with 1.5 steals a game (16th in the NBA). Together these two average 51.8 points of the Lakers’ approximately 114 points per game, leaving only 63.2 points not scored by Lebron and Davis per game. By himself, Davis has improved his free-throw shooting just this season by 6.7%, going from 79.4% last year to now 86.1%. In addition, this year’s Lakers team has improved its free-throw percentage from 69.9% last year to a current 74.1%. Free-throws make or break basketball games, and although 74.1% is not the greatest, this team has shown solid strides in their free-throw percentage every year. (Stats from www.espn.com.)

The Lakers are currently the 2nd best team in the NBA and the best team in the west. They were on a 9-game winning streak about a week ago and show no signs of slowing down. I am praying for the Lakers to win another championship this year, and they have a bright future with the killer combination of Lebron James and Anthony Davis.