Following all of the moves made during the 2019 NBA offseason, it looks as if Los Angeles is the center of the basketball world.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded for Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James and a number of new pieces that head coach Frank Vogel must fit together. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George to a team that was already in the 2019 NBA playoffs, leading many to consider them championship favorites.
The rivalry between the two teams has never really been too serious as the Lakers have all of the history and championships. The Clippers have been better recently, but still have yet to reach the Western Conference Finals and overall, they have never been great at the same time.
That seems likely to change for the 2019-20 NBA season and many around the world are looking forward to the battles between the two sides. However, Vogel believes the Lakers can’t focus on what the Clippers are doing and must simply worry about themselves, according to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:
No doubt. They have a terrific team and a terrific coach, and their front office is doing really well. But we can’t focus on their location. We still have to focus on ourselves and the task at hand. Not just worry about what’s happening crosstown. There are a lot of teams capable of winning the West, so we’ll be focused on our process.
One thing Vogel is absolutely correct about is there are a lot of teams who can win the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Utah Jazz have all made big additions this summer in hopes of winning a championship. The Denver Nuggets continue to grow as a team and had the second-best record in the conference last season. And of course, there’s still the Golden State Warriors who have a championship pedigree and will not be pushed aside easily.
With that many teams who could potentially win the conference, it further goes towards Vogel’s initial point which is the Lakers must simply focus on themselves. With so many new pieces who haven’t played together, they must focus on building chemistry and growing together in order to reach their potential.
There will obviously be extra focus on the Lakers-Clippers rivalry and the schedule release is proof of how the NBA itself views it. But if the Lakers are more concerned with that than themselves, it won’t go well for them against their crosstown rivals — or any other Western Conference contender.