The Los Angeles Lakers became the biggest winner of the 2018 NBA free agency when they succeeded in signing LeBron James. Unfortunately, the Lakers failed to give James another superstar that could help him carry the team next season. Paul George decided to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the San Antonio Spurs ended up trading Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors.
Aside from the players they signed in free agency, the Lakers will be entering the 2018-19 NBA season mostly consisting of young players. This is definitely a very different scene for LeBron James, who spent the last eight seasons playing alongside other NBA superstars like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. However, there is something to look forward to James’ new supporting cast.
According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, one Lakers executive believes that the Purple and Gold could create their own version of the Golden State Warriors’ “Super Death Lineup.”
“We may not see this on day one, but the coaching staff is eager to see our version of the [Warriors’] Death Lineup with Lonzo [Ball], Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, [Kyle] Kuzma and LeBron,” the Lakers executive said.
The Lakers know how to perfectly execute Golden State’s strategy since they have Luke Walton as head coach. Walton served as an assistant for Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr for two years. During the 2015-16 NBA season, when Kerr took an indefinite leave of absence, Walton became the interim head coach and led the Warriors to a 19-0 start.
Most Lakers fans would definitely love to see Walton use their own version of “Death Lineup” with LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball. All four young players surrounding James have shown impressive skills last season. Now that they will be playing alongside the best basketball player on the planet, they are expected to have extra motivation to further improve their game on both ends of the floor.
However, there are some people who have doubt that the Lakers will find success using the “Death Lineup.” One Western Conference executive questioned the experience of the talent the Lakers have outside James and predicted that the team won’t make it to the Western Conference Playoffs next season. Meanwhile, another executive gave an opinion why the “Death Lineup” won’t work in Los Angeles.
“James has been steadily coasting on defense in recent years. Now he’s going to close games as the Lakers’ 5?” the skeptical executive asked. “Draymond [Green] is why that works for the Warriors.”
As of now, it’s too early to judge whether the Lakers will succeed using the “Death Lineup” or not. Only their performance on the 2018-19 NBA season can prove if the Lakers have enough talent to help LeBron James make his ninth consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals.