LeBron James has to be happy with the state of the Los Angeles Lakers following their dominant 2020 NBA Playoffs run.
James’ revenge season culminated in his fourth NBA championship as well as his fourth NBA Finals MVP, showing that he is still the world’s best basketball player when the stakes are at their highest.
Now the 35-year-old appears poised to win a fifth ring after Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka was able to bolster the roster with more talent. Los Angeles was already having a successful offseason, but topped it off with a massive signing in Marc Gasol.
Gasol agreed to a two-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum, shoring up a front court rotation that features Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell. In an appearance on the “Road Trippin’ Podcast,” James expressed his joy about Gasol’s signing as well as cracked a joke at his new teammate’s expense via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I’m happy as hell to have big Marc Gasol, who Laker Nation knows he was traded for his older brother. … Happy to have Marc, another champion, won with the Raptors two years ago, who I’ve always loved.
Marc has my Defensive Player of the Year trophy at his house, but that’s not here or there. I love you, Marc. I can’t wait to talk about this.”
Gasol and James finished first and second, respectively, in the 2012-2013 Defensive Player of the Year race. Gasol anchored the league’s best defense while James was a predatory defender who could capably switch and guard every position on the floor.
The slight dig from James was in good fun, but it does speak to the defensive talent that is now on the Lakers. Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee were largely responsible for protecting the painted area during the 2019-20 campaign, and Gasol should be able to fill that void given his basketball IQ and superb understanding of positioning and angles.
The Spaniard has given preliminary details on how he thinks playing alongside James and Anthony Davis will look like, but it remains to be seen if the fit is as seamlessly as it appears to be.
Gasol’s fit on defense
Under Lakers head coach Frank Vogel the team was focused on limiting shots at the rim, and Gasol should be able to help in that regard. While not the leaper or shot blocker that Howard and McGee are, Gasol is able to quickly diagnose plays and beat attacking players to their spots.
The big man also is an excellent help defender, making the necessary rotations and quarterbacking the rest of the team. Offensively, Gasol will help open the floor but he may prove his worth more on the defensive end.
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