The National Basketball Association (NBA) season begins Tuesday. One big change in the NBA this season is that superstar LeBron James will be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Lakers have a proud history. The team has won 16 NBA championships, if you count the five they won when the team was in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
That’s why the team is called the Lakers. Minnesota is known as “the land of 10,000 lakes.” The team kept the nickname when it moved to Los Angeles after the 1959-60 season even though L.A. doesn’t have a lot of lakes.
Lately, however, the Lakers have fallen on hard times. Los Angeles has suffered through five straight losing seasons. So can James turn the team around?
James has led his team to the NBA Finals in the past eight seasons. At age 33, James is still really good. Last season, he averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists a game during the regular season. Incredibly, James was even more spectacular during the playoffs.
James is also the kind of player who makes everyone around him better. He has led his team in assists during each of his 15 seasons in the NBA. So James is not only a great scorer but also a team player.
Still, this season may be tough for James and the Lakers for several reasons.
First, the Lakers are in the Western Conference — unlike James’s old team, the Cavaliers, who were in the Eastern Conference. The Western Conference has the defending NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors, led by sharpshooting Stephen Curry.
The West is loaded with other talented teams, too. The Houston Rockets won 65 games last season and are led by James Harden, the NBA’s most valuable player (MVP). Portland, Oklahoma City, Utah and New Orleans each won almost 50 games during the 2017-18 regular season. So every game out West is a struggle.
In addition, James’s new teammates in Los Angeles are not that good. Even though James may seem at times to be a one-man team, his best seasons have been when he has had help from teammates such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
The Lakers do not have those kinds of all-star performers. Instead, they depend on young, unproven players such as Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma.
Will James help the Lakers improve on last season’s record of 35-47 (35 wins, 47 losses)? Definitely.
Will James lead the Lakers to another NBA Finals? That may be too much to ask even for King James.