By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Writers
All we can do is dream at this point, but the thought of a potential Los Angeles Lakers team featuring some type of combination of LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard and maybe even Paul George sounds like it would launch a lengthy and versatile attack against the defending Golden State Warriors. Leonard has a ways to go to force a trade to L.A. but the rest of the superstars all have free agency options that could land them far out West. It’s all speculation right now but that’s what comes with the offseason. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk speculate if the Lakers will run with the Warriors next season.
NBA players LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. (AP Photos)
Riley: Pending Kevin Durant re-signing, there’s no formulated team built this summer that could beat the Warriors next season. No other stars in the league shoot the ball like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant. The type of spacing they put on opposing defenses and the cohesion they already possess after two straight championship seasons give them the automatic edge over any team. Paul, George, Leonard and James are all great players but they don’t bring the scoring dynamics that the Warriors bring.
Green: It all depends on what combination of players would potentially join LeBron. Leonard has already put it in the press that he wants to go to L.A. So let’s say LeBron and Leonard connect, that duo alone puts the Lakers neck-and-neck with the Warriors. Leonard can defend Durant and keep him away from another series MVP performance and give LeBron free range. Adding George potentially gives the Lakers another defensive dynamo that can play Curry or Thompson and even Draymond Green. If the Lakers land Paul then that would give them the best floor general in the Association. If they can land all four then look out. The cohesion would happen naturally because they’re all veteran blue-chip players and the defense that they could apply to the Warriors one-on-one would be something Golden State has never seen before over its four-year dynasty run.
Riley: You can’t discount the edge that stabilization among the Warriors’ core and coaching staff gives the team. Every other team is chasing the Warriors at this point and they’re four years in as being championship caliber and six years in of playing together. Other super teams may arise but ask Oklahoma City about forming a super team over one summer and expecting greatness. It’s hard. It’s difficult to piece teams together over the offseason and expect championships out the gate. Competing with Golden State is one thing, toppling them is a whole other discussion. The league will definitely be more interesting with a Lakers super team but it’ll still be the Warriors winning next season, if they re-sign Durant.
Green: Super teams can be formed over a summer and compete for titles. Ask Boston. The OKC experiment was a disaster simply because two of their top three players last season were classic, traditional one-on-one scorers. James and Paul are some of the most mature and most cerebral players in the league. You land the both of them on any team and any team will instantly compete no matter the opponent. Golden State’s sheer number of all-stars gives them an unbelievable edge over playoff opponents, especially against the weaker Eastern Conference. Matching them star-for-star eliminates that edge, and I have to believe that James would be all in on doing whatever it took to topple the team that has dealt him three Finals losses over the last four years.