It was a disappointing run for the LA Lakers during the 2021 NBA playoffs as they failed to defend their 2020 title. Going into the 2020-21 season, they looked the favorites to come out of the West, but their performance in the playoffs was underwhelming.
Although injuries played a role in the LA Lakers' demise, much of the blame goes to the lineup. Between LeBron James nursing an ankle injury and Anthony Davis battling several injuries, not much production came from their roster. While the LA Lakers maintained their stellar defense, shooting the ball was a challenge as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, their top three-point shooter, shot a woeful 21.1% from downtown.
To remedy that, the LA Lakers front office embarked on a near-total overhaul of the 2020-21 roster, leaving only King James, AD, and Talen Horton-Tucker. While there are questions raised about the age of the squad, they are certified championship contenders given the quality of players in the lineup.
Speaking of the offseason, the LA Lakers had perhaps the most successful run in terms of acquiring championship-caliber players who would boost their chances in the 2022 NBA playoffs. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo are some of the elite players that will suit up for the purple and gold in the 2021-22 season.
It will undoubtedly be a season worth keeping up with as LBJ has promised to silence the doubters who have been pushing the narrative of the aged roster having a hard time in the league.
Predicting the floor for the LA Lakers
Given how the odds are stacked in favor of the LA Lakers, it is difficult to imagine them not reaching the NBA Finals. That said, the floor for the LA Lakers in the 2021-22 NBA season could be a Western Conference finals loss.
Of all the teams in the West, the LA Lakers have the best squad on paper. Although durability will be a huge test for the team, a healthy Lakers roster could clinch the top seed in the conference.
Unseating the LA Lakers as king of the West will be an uphill task. The Golden State Warriors are hopeful the return of Klay Thompson will impact their performance on both ends of the court. The LA Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard for a while, an absence that will significantly impact their performance in the 2021-22 campaign.
Regardless of how things play out when the season commences, a top-four finish is the likeliest result for the LA Lakers. Early dominance is expected as they will attempt to instill fear in all opponents ahead of the playoffs.
Predicting the ceiling for the LA Lakers
Reaching the 2022 NBA Finals will not be enough for the LA Lakers, which is why the second championship in three years will be their ceiling. Although the competition will certainly be tough as the Brooklyn Nets are projected to be the champions of the East, the Lakers can compete with a full roster, especially because they would have the edge defensively.
The LA Lakers struggled from range during the 2020-21 season and have brought in elite three-point shooters like Wayne Ellington and Malik Monk, who excel in the catch-and-shoot game. Although Westbrook and LeBron are not great 3-point shooters, they can knock down the occasional open shot or draw a double-team. Given their impressive court vision, finding the open man will not be a challenge.
A lot will be riding on the LA Lakers staying healthy, as that's the only feasible reason why they might not win the championship. Another LeBron James-Stephen Curry matchup is also on the cards as a potential return of Thompson will automatically include them in the championship conversation.