The Los Angeles Lakers finally got in the win column on Sunday night, beating the Memphis Grizzlies to ease the concerns of a lot of fans as two lackluster performances to start the year.
As the Lakers finish the first week of the 2021-22 season, let’s look back at the three main takeaways from their opening games.
1. Patience Will Be Key Word For Lakers & Russell Westbrook Starting Out
Russell Westbrook’s homecoming may not have started as planned, but there are still plenty of reasons for Lakers fans to remain optimistic as the season continues. In 2010 when LeBron James joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in free agency with the Miami Heat to form “The Heatles,” they began their first 17 games with an 8-9 record before everyone began to panic.
The Heat went on to make the NBA Finals that year before winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, with another Finals appearance in 2014. Even as the Lakers racked up a win at the end of the week, it will be important for fans to remember to ride the ups and downs with this team.
After a rocky start to his Lakers tenure, Westbrook seems to be finding a stronger footing and looking more like himself with each passing quarter. This team is filled with stars, versatility and potential combinations, so fans will have to stick with their team as the new-look Lakers figure out which combinations work best.
Anthony Davis had a strong first outing with the Lakers as he dropped 33 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. He’s been adjusting his role since then, but as Davis begins to work out his pick-and-roll combination with Westbrook, it seems as though Davis could explode for his best season yet.
2. LeBron James Is Still Good… Even In Year 19
When James entered the NBA, 50 Cent and Eminem were the biggest rappers in the world, Tom Brady only had one Super Bowl victory and Michael Jordan had just retired from the NBA for his third and final time. The fact that Kobe Bryant was playing some of his best basketball in Year 17 before he tore his Achilles is mind-blowing, but with James having never faced such a catastrophic injury, it’s truly incredible to see him still thriving in Year 19 at 36 years old.
Going into Sunday’s matchup against the Grizzlies, James was averaging 29.5 points per game, 51.2% shooting from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Through 3 games James, has now drained 14 3-ponters, which is the most in his 19-year career to start off a season.
James went off for 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists on opening night as he looked just as spry as ever. It seems as though the Lakers’ veterans have all invigorated each other to continue performing at the highest level and prove the haters wrong.
3. The Lakers May Have A Big 4 On Their Hands
Everyone’s been talking about the new Big 3, “360,” consisting of James, Davis and Westbrook. However, after Carmelo Anthony played the largest role of the night on Sunday, it might be time to consider that he can also play a significant role on the path to the Larry O’Brien.
Not only was Anthony the Lakers’ leading scorer, but he passed Moses Malone to become the NBA’s ninth all-time leading scorer. Anthony further cemented his legendary status in NBA history as he was selected as one of the Top 75 Players in NBA history along with his Laker teammates James, Davis and Westbrook.
Anthony went 6-of-8 from 3-point land while going 10-of-15 overall, including multiple clutch shots in the fourth quarter to lead the Lakers to a 121-118 victory over the Grizzlies. There has been buzz rising about Anthony winning Sixth Man of The Year, as I even predicted this for Lakers Nation in our roundtable predictions.
Anthony may have found himself a perfect role with the Lakers, which is pretty incredible considering he was out of the NBA with people unsure he would be back in 2018. One thing that’s for sure is that Anthony isn’t going anywhere soon as he figures to be a big part of closing out games on the Lakers’ path to banner 18.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!