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The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the biggest surprise move of the offseason in the NBA by acquiring Russell Westbrook. It was a move few saw coming, largely because of his inexact fit alongside superstar LeBron James.
But in a superstar-driven league, the Lakers bet that having three of them in Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis would overcome any on-court fit issues the trio might have. While the preseason has yet to offer any on-court insight into that gamble, Lakers fans are confident in our latest SB Nation Reacts poll that the move will pay off.
Given Westbrook being the hometown kid returning to Los Angeles to help the team win the title, it’s not a surprise that the majority of Lakers fans are all-in on the trade. However, for outsiders looking in across the NBA, the same level of confidence isn’t there with the Lakers and Westbrook this season.
The Lakers’ decision to acquire Westbrook in an attempt to maximize the title window of James and Davis was a bold move. NBA fans, though, aren’t quite as optimistic in that gamble working out as Lakers fans are, an understandable difference. For now, fans across the league will have to wait and see how it plays out.
Elsewhere in the NBA
Perhaps the biggest news going on across the league is the Ben Simmons situation in Philadelphia. After playing a central role in the Sixers crashing out of the playoffs last season, Simmons has not reported to training camp for the Sixers. Fans aren’t taking his side.
As it stands, there appears to be no end in sight for Simmons and the Sixers, with both sides standing firm in their stances, Simmons with his desire to be dealt and the Sixers and their desire to receive a massive trade package for him.
The team that did make it out of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season and eventually secured the title was the Bucks. Milwaukee met the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals in a postseason marred by injury before Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brilliant series ensured a title for his side.
Heading into this season, NBA fans are far more confident in the Bucks repeating a trip to the Finals than they are that the Suns will do the same.
The Lakers’ improvements this offseason certainly play a role in the voting, as does the fact the Suns benefitted from good health when competing against depleted teams missing their best players in the Western Conference playoffs.
And as the Lakers learned firsthand last season as well, it’s a remarkably hard feat to replicate a long playoff run after a short offseason, which both Milwaukee and Phoenix had this summer. We’ll see how they both handle it as the season moves along.
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