Going into the 2020-21 NBA season, there questions and concerns regarding how the Los Angeles Lakers were going to look after only having a two-month offseason.
Were their bodies going to be able to handle it? Would the new players fit in right away? Were they going to coast in the early part of the preseason? Would they suffer from a championship hangover?
While it’s hard to say those questions have been answered definitively, the Lakers have done all right for themselves so far. Not only have they won their last five games, but they’ve only had one loss in their last 10 games. For the season, they’re 11-3, which is the best record in the NBA.
Their immediate success may be a surprise to many, but not for Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who knows firsthand what a successful championship run can do for a team’s morale (via Dieter Kurtenbach of the East Bay Times):
“They have the confidence that comes with winning a championship and they don’t have the fatigue that comes with winning multiple championships,” Kerr said. “This is really a sweet spot. It’s where we found ourselves the year we won 73.
“You come back and it’s almost like a continuation of your championship season. You’re on top of the world. Everybody’s happy. You add some layers to what you already did. [And you have] deeper confidence in what you’re doing.”
Kerr is obviously an authority on championship-winning teams because of his years as a player with the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs, and the years he’s served as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. But with all due respect to Kerr, it doesn’t take an eight-time NBA champion to see that the Lakers are playing with supreme confidence right now.
If that hasn’t been evident in their play, it definitely has been in their words. In December, before the season started, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said his confidence was “through the roof,” which isn’t something he could have said at the beginning of last season. That confidence has led to Caldwell-Pope shooting 53.5% from the field and a scalding 55.3% from behind the arc through 10 appearances this season.
It’s possible that the Lakers will slow down once they build on their lead in the Western Conference, but for right now, they look unstoppable. We’ll see if they can keep it rolling against Kerr’s Warriors tonight.