When LeBron James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, their expectations for the 2018-19 NBA season dramatically changed.
From making the playoffs to contending for championships now, James’ arrival has re-established the franchise’s standard as he is coming off three championships in eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
However, based on projections, the Lakers could be the second-best team or not even make the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference. With this significant gap in opinion, there are a lot of questions about how good James and the young core can truly be.
Heading into Year 1 in Los Angeles, James discussed if the Lakers are championship contenders, via beIN SPORTS:
“I mean, there’s a lot of championship contenders but there’s only one champion, and that’s the Golden State Warriors. They’re the team that everybody is trying to catch. But you also have the Houston Rockets who are really good. You’ve got Oklahoma City, the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors. There’s a lot of championship-contending teams, but everyone knows the trophy goes through Golden State.”
As it currently stands, the Golden State Warriors are favorites to win their fourth championship in five consecutive NBA Finals appearances. With the Warriors having five All-Star starters and chemistry, the Lakers have eight new players and will try to expedite the learning curve.
While James alone gives any team a chance, the reality is this is a two-year plan to becoming championship contenders. As the 33-year-old continues to dominate, the hope is the young core will take major steps in their development and the Lakers can sign another All-Star player in 2019 free agency.