After acquiring LeBron James in the recent free agency, most people expected the Los Angeles Lakers to end their five-year playoff drought in the 2018-19 NBA season. However, with James as the only superstar on their roster, it remains a big question mark if the Lakers have what it takes to beat the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series and make it to the NBA Finals 2019.
Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal is one of the people who doesn’t see the Lakers competing for the NBA championship title this season. In an exclusive interview with For The Win, O’Neal said that the Lakers can already call it a successful season when they manage to reach the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
“Second round of playoffs,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know yet if they’ll make it there. I’ll know more at the All-Star break.”
It is not a surprise why Shaquille O’Neal is still unsure whether the Lakers can really make it to the Western Conference semifinals or not. Despite having the best basketball player on the planet, the Lakers are struggling earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season. They are currently sitting in the 11th spot in the Western Conference and recently suffered an embarrassing loss against the Kawhi Leonard-less Toronto Raptors.
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However, Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t seem to be worried about the Lakers’ slow start. O’Neal explained that every time James joined a new team, they don’t immediately make an impact in the league. After making eight consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals, O’Neal is very confident that James can carry the Lakers to the Western Conference Playoffs this season.
“Yeah, I think they can make the playoffs,” O’Neal said. “Every time LeBron starts with a new team they don’t start off as they would have hoped. But there are eight playoff spots out there and they should be able to get one.”
To strengthen their chance of ending their five-year playoff drought, Shaquille O’Neal believes that the Lakers should still consider upgrading their current roster. O’Neal suggested that the Lakers should add shooters to maximize the effectiveness of LeBron James.
“They definitely need shooters,” O’Neal said. “LeBron always needs shooters.”
In his previous stints with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James found success when he shared the court with players who can space the floor. Being surrounded by shooters will make it easier for James to penetrate the basket. Aside from adding shooters, the Lakers are also planning to address their weakness at the center position by signing Tyson Chandler after he completes a buyout with the Phoenix Suns.