There are only three guarantees in life: Death, taxes and ESPN finding a way rile Lakers fans up in the dog days of the offseason. Earlier this week, ESPN released their NBA offseason survey and despite all of the moves the Lakers made this summer, they didn’t receive a single vote in any one of the six categories, good or bad. Not even their star players, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, were able to make an appearance in the survey.
Here are the most notable omissions for the Lakers in ESPN’s NBA offseason survey.
LeBron James receives zero votes for “best player”
Coming off a season where he suffered the worst injury of his career and missed the postseason, one could make the case that LeBron James is underrated going into next season and the results of the “Best Player” portion of the survey back that up.
Kawhi Leonard - 12
Giannis Antetokounmpo - 6
James Harden - 2
According to the survey’s author, Tim Bontemps, James got consideration for this category, but no one actually voted for him. The question is: Should they have?
In his first season with the Lakers, James averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds. 8.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game while posting a +2.1 box plus-minus. The list of players to match those averages last season is short, and that’s because James is the only player on that list.
With his 35th birthday just around the corner, Father Time might slow James down sooner rather than later, but until that happens it’s hard to argue that James isn’t one of the best players in the league.
Anthony Davis trade snubbed from “move of the summer”
Remember that one time the Lakers paired James with arguably the most dominant big man in the NBA? Well, it seems like everyone at ESPN did because in their “favorite move of the summer” portion of the survey, the Davis trade was left out—at least on the Lakers’ end.
Clippers getting Leonard/Paul George - 10
Jazz getting Bojan Bogdanovic/Mike Conley - 2
Pelicans overall offseason - 2
Josh Richardson/Al Horford to Philadelphia - 2
The results that stand out are the number of votes the Pelicans got for their offseason. Yes, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin got quite the haul for Davis and made a flurry of moves on draft night, but the moves he made didn’t exactly make New Orleans overnight contenders. The Lakers acquiring Davis did.
That’s not to mention the signings they made after Davis like Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook. While they might not be the favorites to finish atop of the Western Conference in the regular season, they’ll be in the mix because of the offseason they had. That’s probably enough to warrant at least one vote.
No one thinks the Lakers will win a title next season
With James and Davis on their roster, the expectation for the Lakers will be to make the playoffs. However, according to the ESPN survey, no one should expect the Lakers to come out of the Western Conference.
East: Milwaukee Bucks 12, Philadelphia 76ers 8
West: LA Clippers 16, Denver Nuggets 2, Utah Jazz 1, Houston Rockets 1
NBA title: LA Clippers 13, Milwaukee Bucks 2, Philadelphia 76ers 2, Utah Jazz 1, Denver Nuggets 1, Houston Rockets 1
It’s easy to argue against the Lakers finishing in the top-five in the Western Conference in the regular season. Not only is their team entirely different from last season, but they’ll also be lead by a new head coach in Frank Vogel, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them have some growing pains to start the season.
Making a case against James and Davis in a playoff series is a little harder, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I will say, though: If the team you root for isn’t the Lakers in that series, I’d hate to be on the other side of that bridge.
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