Confetti rains down from the rafters of Staples Center with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony sharing an emotional hug 20 years in the making as Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook collapse to the floor in emotion as the Los Angeles Lakers win the 2022 NBA Championship.
Be prepared for this moment in June because there’s nothing stopping the Lakers, featuring six future Hall of Famers, from winning the 2022 NBA championship and it will be one of the most satisfying championships in NBA history.
I successfully predicted the Lakers winning the 2020 NBA championship on paper before the season started and I’m confident enough to make that prediction again for the 2022 iteration of the Lakers. Here are three reasons why:
With Anthony Davis donning No. 3, LeBron James donning No. 6 and Russell Westbrook donning No. 0 “360” is the only logical nickname for the Lakers and their shiny new Big 3. However, it also fits the playstyle of these three as their skill sets allow them to cover every aspect of the floor.
Davis is one of the NBA’s unicorns as he is essentially a more athletic Tim Duncan able to run the floor, shoot the three, hit the mid-range and throw down powerful athletic dunks. He looked noticeably bigger and more powerful in the preseason, which should only increase the perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate’s chances of finally securing the award.
James is not only one of the greatest players of all time, but he’s still playing like it. LeBron is known for making teammates better and we saw the full potential of what he can do with Davis as he led the Lakers to the 2020 NBA championship. However, James has never played with someone who can play-make quite like him until now.
Westbrook joining LeBron and Davis makes for one of the most dangerous transition games in NBA history. We saw flashes of this during the Lakers’ final preseason game against the Golden State Warriors when James became an off-ball option with Westbrook, last season’s assist leader, dishing the ball to him in transition.
Not only will this save LeBron’s legs, but it makes him the best off-ball option in the league. James can also turn Westbrook into an off-ball option, which proved a successful formula for the Houston Rockets before the pandemic stopped the league dead in its tracks.
Westbrook also forms the league’s most menacing pick-and-roll duo in the league with Davis. Just imagining Davis running down the lane with Westbrook throwing a perfectly-time lob should give opposing defenses nightmares.
No matter what people think about the fit these three know each other well and wouldn’t have met at LeBron’s house to discuss how they would win a championship together unless they knew this was going to work. This trio will end up becoming one of the league’s all-time great Big 3s and it all begins against the Warriors on Oct. 19th.
2. Role Players
When your fourth-best player is a top-10 scorer of all time named Carmelo Anthony, it’s safe to say you’re doing pretty well for yourself in the NBA. Not only that, but Anthony already has great chemistry with 360 from his All-Star games and Olympic showings with the trio.
Anthony also had his second-highest 3-point-shooting percentage of his career last year at 40.9%. The Lakers need him to shoot the three and he appears ready to do so.
Anthony isn’t the only 40% 3-point shooter the Lakers added, howveer. 23-year-old Malik Monk shot 40.9% from 3-point land last season.
Former Laker Wayne Ellington reunited with the team this offseason and has become known as one of the most reliable 3-point shooters in the NBA. In fact, Ellington shot at a ridiculous 42.2 % clip from downtown last year.
Finally, the Lakers reunited with another former Laker in Kent Bazemore, who shot 40.8% from the perimeter last season. Bazemore is also a defensive stalwart as the Lakers look to regain their 2020 defensive identity.
The Lakers are also going back to their dual big man approach that won them the championship as they brought back Dwight Howard and also have DeAndre Jordan to clog up the paint and swat shots into the rafters. The Lakers also brought back another defensive stalwart from the 2020 Lakers championship in Avery Bradley, playmaker extraordinaire, defensive pest and 2020 champion Rajon Rondo and 2009 Lakers champion Trevor Ariza as their defense should be just fine anchored by one of the NBA’s best defenders in Davis.
3. Old Age and Chemistry Will Work to the Lakers’ Advantage
Everyone keeps talking about how old the Lakers’ roster is as a negative, but when you look at most NBA championship rosters, age is a positive. In fact, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls’ roster that won the championship in 1998 had an average age of 31.7.
The 2021-2022 Los Angeles Lakers roster has an average age of 29.3. Not only that, but they boast six future Hall Of Famers and a wealth of experience with an NBA-record 57 All-Star appearances combined across their roster. James, Davis, Westbrook, Athony, Rondo and Howard have a ton of experience playing with and against each other over the years.
This alone, along with the multiple long-standing friendships on the team, creates intangible chemistry. Not only that, but they all have unique connections to Laker legend Kobe Bryant, which makes their bond even stronger.
The Lakers will match up against the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Finals and win in seven games if Kyrie Irving plays or five if he doesn’t. Regardless, you heard it here first that I guarantee the Lakers will win the NBA championship.
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