With LeBron James and Anthony Davis on their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers will have two of the three best players on the floor every night next season. However, the one area they’ll be lacking in comparison to other teams is continuity.
Five of the eight Western Conference teams that made the playoffs last season will have at least eight returning players next season: The Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers. Of those five teams, four of them will have at least three returning starters, including the Nuggets and Spurs, who will have all five back. Additionally, all eight of the teams that made the playoffs in the Western Conference last season have had the same coach for the last three seasons.
Meanwhile, the Lakers will have six returning players on their roster for next season —including just two starters in James and JaVale McGee — and a brand new head coach in Frank Vogel.
It’s for that reason Vogel told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com that even though he’s confident his team’s ability, he wouldn’t surprised to see them struggle as they get to know one another:
MT: I asked Anthony Davis at his presser about playing the 5, and he said he prefers the 4, but then looked directly at you and said, ‘But if it comes down to it, Coach, I’ll play the 5.’ Meanwhile, he said in a recent interview that he’s been working on his 3 all summer, so perhaps you get some of that big-man-shooting there.
MT: But what I wanted to ask about Davis ties in with LeBron as well. Cohesion is obviously really important in the NBA, and you don’t have a ton of that on the roster…
MT: But, does having two stars, and the rest of the players who “should” know that they’re there to support them, can that fast track cohesion in some way?
Vogel: I hope so. But it’d probably be irresponsible to think it’s all going to happen overnight, and that we’re going to start the season with great cohesiveness. There are going to be bumps in the road, there are nights where it might be ugly, and guys are getting to know each other on both ends of the floor. Guys figuring out what their role is going to be on this team. But with a team that’s going through change, if you’re going to pick guys to do it, you want to pick smart, respected vets, which we have an abundance of on this team. There’s still optimism that we can get off to a strong start.
Another source of optimism could come from the fact that a few of the players on the roster are already familiar with each other.
Rajon Rondo and Davis played with each other on the New Orleans Pelican during the 2017-18 season, while Quinn Cook and McGee know each other from the season they spent together with the Golden State Warriors. Cook was also teammates with James for a brief time, as was Danny Green.
So, there is some continuity on the roster, just not the same type of continuity that other contenders like the Clippers and Nuggets have. Let’s hope the Lakers can make up for lost time and get things in order in time for the playoffs.