Five stories as the Lakers begin the season. A group of high-level thinkers………

It is a well-known fact that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be responsible for the Lakers’ successful effort to raise banner No. 18 for the NBA championship. James and Davis have more than enough tools to support a 2024 championship victory. The Lakers must first make it through the fiercely difficult Western Conference if they hope to reach the NBA’s summit.

The team who defeated them in the conference finals last season and went on to win the franchise’s first championship, the Nuggets, will be their first opponent when they start their march on Tuesday night in Denver. The talented Phoenix Suns, who feature one of the league’s most lethal threesomes in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, host the Lakers in their first home game on Thursday night.

The Lakers will have to fight with championship-contending opponents in the West in the form of the Clippers, who have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back in full health, and the Golden State Warriors, who have the finest shooters in the league in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, along with Draymond Green and newcomer Chris Paul. “We’re just starting out on this journey,” Darvin Ham, our coach, stated, “and we got a bunch of high-level thinkers in our program top to bottom.” Before the season begins, consider these five Lakers storylines:

Can they remain wholesome? To say that James and Davis’s health is crucial to the Lakers’ success is an understatement.

James, who will be 39 in December, missed 27 games last year due to an ailment to his right foot in which he “pretty much tore the whole tendon.” James continued to play well in his 55 games. Over 35.5 minutes per game, he averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. He made 76.8% of his free throws and fired 32.1% from beyond the arc. Even so, James is starting his sixth season with the Lakers as he enters his 21st.

There will be many nights when he can lead the Lakers, but when he’s not at his best, Davis needs to be the driving force. Due to a foot issue, Davis, 30, missed 26 games last season. Nevertheless, the Lakers awarded him a three-year, $186 million agreement, keeping him with the team through the 2027–28 campaign. On media day, Davis stated, “Playing 82 [games] is my goal every year. James has publicly stated that Davis’ team is now the one in play.

Last season, Davis participated in 56 games, averaging 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, an NBA-high 2.6 assists, and 2.0 blocks in 34 minutes per game. He made 78.4% of his free throws and shot 56.3% from the field. Ham stated that he wants his forward/center to bury six three-pointers per game despite Davis’ poor three-point shooting percentage of just 25.7%.

For what it’s worth, throughout the preseason, Davis made 46.2% of his threes. Trying to find a wingman Who will fill the vacuum and take over as the third-highest scorer? They have a lot of choices. Could it be Gabe Vincent, D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, etc.?

“We have a plethora of guys that can carry that load and we’re going to need every one of them,” Ham stated. “Every person in that locker room, we’re going to lean on them if we plan on this being a nine-month journey.” Reaves emerged in the playoffs, averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists while shooting 44.3% from three-point range, demonstrating that he is prepared to step up his game. He averaged 13.8 points while representing Team USA in eight games at the FIBA World Cup over the summer, shooting 57% from the field and 50% from three-point range.

Russell was acquired by the Lakers last season, and in the 17 games he played, he averaged 17.4 points, 6.1 assists, and a 41.4% field goal percentage. He scored 13.5 points on average, shot 57.4% from the field and 45.5% from three-point range in six preseason games. He also made an attempt to play better defense. Hachimura made a significant improvement in the postseason, averaging 12.2 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 48.7% from three-point range and 55.3% from the field overall. Against Memphis, he scored a playoff career-high 29 points.

During the Miami Heat’s journey to the NBA Finals last season, Vincent, who was a Miami Heat player, averaged 12.7 points and shot 37.8% from three-point range. Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, and second-year guard Max Christie join James, Davis, Reaves, Russell, Hachimura, and Vincent. Ham has a wide range of possibilities thanks to that.

“Coach Ham, you could see how he got better and better and better the whole season, and then we saw how he made the great moves in the playoffs,” said Lakers legend and five-time champion Magic Johnson. “I was really impressed with Coach Ham’s ability.”



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