The Los Angeles Lakers won the biggest prize of the 2018 NBA free agency when they succeeded to acquire the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James. The arrival of James is expected to turn the Purple and Gold from a rebuilding team to a legitimate playoff contender in the deep Western Conference. Unfortunately, despite the acquisition of James, most people still don’t see the Lakers on the level of the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors.
After winning back-to-back NBA championship titles, the Warriors have retained their core of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and even got stronger with the acquisition of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in the recent free agency. Meanwhile, unlike in his stint with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James is currently surrounded by young players and veterans whose fit with him remains a big question.
However, for Nick Young, who both played for the Lakers and the Warriors, the Purple and Gold have a chance of challenging the reigning NBA champions for the Western Conference supremacy in the 2018-19 NBA season. In an appearance on Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed, Young said that the Lakers can match up well with the Warriors, saying that they could execute the same strategy the Houston Rockets used to force a Game 7 against Golden State in the Western Conference finals 2018.
“I think they actually could compete with the Warriors,” Young said (h/t ClutchPoints). “They’re young and they match up well. Like when we played Houston, the matchup was switching, they switched everything — Trevor (Ariza) and P.J. (Tucker) switched everything… It’s just teams like that, they have B.I. (Brandon Ingram), they got Kuzma — they can switch on anybody.”
Nick Young definitely knows what he’s saying since he was there when the Rockets almost eliminated the Warriors in the conference finals. Also, after years of serving as the Warriors assistant coach, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton may already have the blueprint to beat the reigning NBA champions. However, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma obviously need a massive improvement in their defensive to be on the level of Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker. Ingram and Kuzma have been working harder than usual since LeBron James signed with the Lakers.
If they continue developing their game, Kuzma and Ingram could play a major role in helping LeBron James bring the Lakers back to the NBA Finals. The Lakers have already shown their capability to compete by beating the Warriors twice in the preseason. In their first game of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers will be facing the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night at the Moda Center.