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State of the NBA: Los Angeles Lakers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has stopped the NBA season, not to mention the entire world. There is no telling when we’ll get some basketball again, but once we do, we’ll know the Los Angeles Lakers, who’ve historically been accustomed to success, will come back as the best team in the Western Conference, and arguably the best in the league.

Prior to the stoppage, the Lakers boasted a 49-14 record which was good for first in the Western Conference. It all starts with superstar point forward LeBron James, who is averaging 26 points a game, eight rebounds, and leading the league in assists with 10.6.

University of Kentucky product Anthony Davis, aka “The Brow,” has been nothing short of sensational. The Lakers traded multiple players and future assets to acquire Davis last summer, and with 27 points and 9.4 rebounds, he’s teamed up with LeBron to form arguably the best duo in the league.

The team had to acquire several players in free agency, including Danny Green, a reunion with Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and Markieff Morris (post-trade deadline). They all serve as solid complements en route to the Lakers being a top ten offensive and defensive team.

While we don’t know what will happen with the NBA until at least May, we can at least come up with hypothetical scenarios for what might happen: If the playoffs began based on the current standings, the Lakers would face the Memphis Grizzlies. Rookie sensation Ja Morant and second-year forward Jaren Jackson have helped Memphis unexpectedly compete for the eight seed.

Both teams split their games this season, with the home team winning each time. In spite of the Grizzlies’ exceeding expectations, the Lakers will most likely sweep this series, as the Grizzlies don’t have much in the way of playoff experience amidst a young core.

However, the Lakers have notably struggled all season against good back courts, which Memphis has in Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke, but this would likely be a sweep where each game is relatively competitive. There is also a possibility the Lakers could face off against the New Orleans Pelicans. This would be a less favorable match-up for LA, though it would be fun to watch.

The Pelicans have first overall pick rookie Zion Williamson, who has been as advertised this season. The storyline here is also one to watch, as former players go up against each other. Brandon Ingram, the key return for the Pelicans in the AD trade, is having a great season for the Pelicans, averaging over 24 points a game.

Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, also part of the trade, are having solid seasons as well. It’ll also be fun to see Anthony Davis go up against his former squad, and it’s very likely he helps the Lakers enjoy a fun four game sweep of the series. There aren’t many other realistic opponents for the Lakers, as it’s pretty clear who the eighth seed will be.

However, the Dallas Mavericks, who’ve slipped to the seventh seed, would pose a real challenge. Dallas’ two best players (Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis) have yet to play a minute of postseason action, which helps the Lakers. While Anthony Davis has limited experience himself, this season has been a great unifying experience for the team as a whole.

Again, no one truly knows what the conclusion of the 2020 NBA season is going to be, but the Lakers look ready to compete against anyone in the first round. The coronavirus has affected the sports world like nothing we have ever seen before, and the world does its best to recover one day at a time.

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