For all the madness of the ‘bubble’ format, in the end it was fitting that the LA Lakers – by most pundits’ measure the best team in the NBA during the 2020 season – got their hands on the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy.
It was right and proper that LeBron James was named MVP too – just another feather in the cap to one of the sport’s greatest ever players.
Basketball is all about what, ifs and maybes, but if the Miami Heat hadn’t gone missing in the second quarter of the sixth game of the Finals could the result have been different?
We’ll never know, and all Frank Vogel and his players are interested in now is building the kind of dynasty that is talked about decades down the line. They will go into the 2020-21 campaign as the favourites in the
So what can Vogel and his backroom team do to ensure the Lakers have a shot at retaining their title?
#1 – Bow Down to The King
In December, barely a week after the season’s restart, LeBron James will turn 36 years old.
In itself that is no problem – the ‘King’ is clearly an outstanding athlete and in great shape, but the concern for Vogel is that the older you get, the harder it is to shake off niggling injuries.
So protecting LeBron will be key, and it’s already been rumored that he will sit out the first month of the new campaign to give him time to recuperate. Will the King be able to occupy his throne in 2020-21?
#2 – Strength in Numbers
Why you’d want to leave the NBA champions is anybody’s guess, but money talks in sport and Rob Pelinka is playing a dangerous game in not tying down the franchise’s key performers to longer-term contracts.
That means that the likes of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo – so impressive as a foil for LeBron last term – and Avery Bradley could be tempted elsewhere, and that would deplete the roster appreciably.
Dwight Howard is another without any financial ties to the Lakers, and Pelinka should be looking at this situation ahead of the new season to avoid any disasters during free agency.
#3 – Tie Down Davis
Every King needs his court jester and, while that’s a label that is slightly unfair to Anthony Davis, it should be reiterated that the Lakers are not the same team without him – and you can add the fact that LeBron is far less dangerous into the bargain.
The 27-year-old was in stellar form last season, averaging more than 26 points per game and nine rebounds, and the All-NBA first-team selection was pipped to the post in the Defensive Player of the Year category.
Alarmingly for the Lakers, Davis is entering the final year of his contract, and it is imperative that they tie him down for the foreseeable future to ensure the franchise has star power even when LeBron isn’t on the court.
If the Lakers can secure Davis, re-sign key figures in the roster and field LeBron on an as-and-when-needed basis, they could well outlast the chasing pack once more.