With the addition of LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers immediately made themselves relevant in the NBA once again.
Many assumed James would only sign with the Lakers if there was another star joining him, but that didn’t happen. The Lakers added a number of veterans on one-year contracts to join James and a young core that he is bullish on.
Nonetheless, many question whether the Lakers are true contenders in a loaded Western Conference, where almost every team has two superstars. One person who firmly believes they will factor prominently in the conference is Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau.
In a piece by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk, Thibodeau believes James immediately makes the Lakers a force
“Any time a player like that comes to the West, particularly him, obviously if you got LeBron, you are an instant contender,” Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau has plenty of experience with James, matching wits with with him several times as an assistant with the Boston Celtics and head coach of the Chicago Bulls. He is fully aware of the impact James has on a team and expects the same jump from the Lakers.
Last season Thibodeau’s Timberwolves were the eighth seed in the West with 47 wins, so James and the Lakers’ ascent to being a contender directly opposes his own playoff hopes. Nonetheless, the battle in the West is going to be truly amazing.
The Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets, Clippers, and T-Wolves should all be good teams, not to mention the Memphis Grizzlies returning to full health.
James and the young Lakers will be in a serious fight all year in order to rise in the Western Conference and contend for a championship.