Laker Nation continues to celebrate the seemingly meteoric rise of the Los Angeles Lakers since the All-Star break. They have been more suffocating on defense, and winning consistently. Seemingly every other night, one of the Lakers role players will step up and have a big game for the team.
At this point, they are hardly “surprise” performances. Whether it is Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, or most recently, Lonnie Walker IV, the Lakers can just about count on one of their role players to step up when the big two of LeBron James and Anthony Davis needs it most.
Though Russell Westbrook has proven that he can still be a productive player with the Los Angeles Clippers, he was an anchor that weighed heavily on the Lakers’ offense. After having been freed from the poor fit that was Westbrook, the Lakers have thrived, especially since the pieces added are such a great fit.
Is that enough to declare that this is the best team LeBron has had? Not necessarily. The truth is, with LeBron and Davis leading the way, the Lakers just need 4-5 decent rotation players to be competitive. And as much hype as this iteration of the Lakers squad is receiving, one can make the argument that the 2020 version of the Lakers were of similar quality.
With pieces like Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LeBron had an equally deep supporting cast. They won the championship that year for a reason. Yes, LeBron and AD were in their element, but the Lakers had a deep and reliable squad.
The Lakers didn’t really collapse until they sacrificed depth to attain Russell Westbrook in the first place. This meant the Lakers had the worst of both worlds. They were a top heavy team that wasn’t even that top heavy given how poor of a fit that Russell Westbrook turned out to be.
After finally correcting that mistake, by getting rid of Westbrook and Patrick Beverly, choosing to once again lean into depth, the Lakers are once again a contending team.
It is accurate however, to say that LeBron has had the benefit of playing with deeper squads on the Lakers. If choosing which LeBron team is the best, it would have to be the 2020 version of the Lakers, or the current iteration. And because the 2020 version of the Lakers was much better defensively, and only marginally worse on offense, a solid argument can be made that the 2020 Lakers are still LeBron’s best team to date.