NBA 2019-20: Can the Los Angeles Lakers keep up this level of play throughout the season?
The Los Angeles Lakers are having their best start to a season in the last decade, as LeBron James and co. are sitting at the top of the Western Conference at the moment. With the level of play displayed so far, it is normal for fans to ask themselves if this Lakers team actually has a solid case to win the title this year. LeBron has way better stats this time than he did around this time last year, Anthony Davis looks like he did not miss a beat on the court, and the players that the Lakers acquired during the off-season have not disappointed so far.
Most experts have been in awe so far with the defensive capabilities that the Lakers seem to possess this season. The team from LA looks way better on the back end of the court this year, and most of that credit should go in the direction of Dwight Howard. The Lakers faced a lot of criticism during the off-season for integrating him back into the team, but Howard has not disappointed so far this season, and his performances have definitely been above everyone's expectations.
To add to that, LeBron James' defense did not look this good since his Miami Heat days. He is in the top 10 players from the NBA at the moment, in terms of defensive win shares, something that not many experts expected from him this season. The Lakers have the best defensive rating in the league right now and this surely helps their case for being an important contender for that NBA title.
The real question that we have to ask at this point, is for how long can the Lakers keep this good level of play? There are more than 70 games left in the regular season, and after that, a very difficult and demanding playoff schedule will ensue.
While they have only suffered two defeats so far, the Lakers also trailed in other matches – in Chicago and in Dallas – and had more than one match in which they would have deserved to lose. Their record is better than expected at this point of the season, in my opinion, but at the same time, their schedule has not been as difficult compared to the schedule of other top teams, like the Portland Trail Blazers or the San Antonio Spurs. The Los Angeles Lakers still have a lot to prove in order to be a top contender for the title this season, but they are definitely on the right path.
What can help the Lakers a lot in the long run this season is the coaching staff. Frank Vogel seems to have a clear-cut idea about the way he wants his team to play and his vision for this season seems to be very cohesive. The former head coach of the Indiana Pacers is quite famous for the good defensive abilities that his teams usually display, and this is something that we can see with the Los Angeles Lakers as well.
We can see that Vogel has done a good job so far, by integrating the new signings into the team quite fast, and by tailoring the style of play in a way that can suit LeBron James, while still helping his other players perform to the best of their abilities.
To conclude, this Los Angeles Lakers team still has a lot to prove this season. Their current level of play may or may not be sustainable, but that is a question that can only be answered later in the season.
So far, with an in-form LeBron James, a very good Anthony Davis, off-season additions that are playing better than expected, and a coaching staff with experience, I would say that the Los Angeles Lakers are definitely a dangerous team at the moment, and for sure are title contenders