Buying or Selling? | Lakers’ Big Picture Predictions

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Updated: August 17, 2021
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Possibly the most polarizing offseasons across the league, the Los Angeles Lakers came out with a bang to start free agency. With huge Russell Westbrook trade and the half a dozen veteran minimum contracts, many including Vegas has them as the title favorites coming out of the West. After a disappointing first-round knockout plagued by injuries in the postseason, and the hype train led by ESPN, is it wise to buy stock in the Lebron-Russ-AD trio? The stock of a team or player is relative to the current mainstream expectations placed upon them. With their entire future mortgaged for the now, not only is the Lakers situation title or bust, but they are also the hands-down favorites by the loud majority. As much as regular-season success will be praised in the winter, come the end of spring, anything short of the Conference Finals will be seen as an utter failure.

Let’s begin with the team’s expectations itself. Lebron and the Lakers did an excellent job getting a ton of cheap vet talent in free agency. Melo, Ariza, Dwight, Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Nunn, and Malik Monk were all signed on the cheap to supplement the lost depth in the last few trades they have made for big star talent. Arguably, despite the age and health concerns, they may have been the biggest winners at the pawn shop, picking up old Rolexes and rusted yet still sharp knives for pennies on the dollar. However, their entire team makeup is dependent now on one man and his fit in this Lebron system, and that is the addition of ex-MVP Russell Westbrook.

Making a Final’s bound team around Lebron has always been the same recipe. Give him shooting and defense and King James will find a way to the Finals. Unfortunately for all of those who have bet their hard-earned dollars on the Lakers to win the title, Westbrook provides neither of these two key ingredients. He is an abysmal shooter from behind the arc and it only gets worse in the playoffs. This fact somehow has never stopped his stubborn trigger finger to fire in game-defining moments down the stretch of huge playoff games, chucking up bricks despite KD, PG-13, or Melo right next to him. With historic usage rates and needing the ball to be impactful, it is quite odd how confident Lebron believers are in this working out. The hype train will continue to roll forward as they dominate through portions of the regular season. However, come the playoffs, any stock you still have amongst your NBA friends or the pods you host, should be sold off entirely.

Buying or Selling: Westbrook

As for individual players, throughout the regular season, the value on Westbrook’s name has a very high probability of skyrocketing. He has never played with a big as versatile and talented as Anthony Davis, and with Lebron load managing in-game, Russ will be welcomed to dominate the ball and a majority of possessions. With his career legacy, however, this post-season may finally be the nail in the coffin. After he burns out next to two top 10 players, whether it is due to injury or delusional confidence in the jumper, Russ will never be traded as a plus asset again.

Buying or Selling: King James

Despite his pedestrian play in the playoffs, there are still many around the league who would pick him as their #1 player going into a 7-game series. Because of his perceived value, buying stock in Lebron now is illogical, because the expectations on his worn body are simply too high to merit. It should be noted that the offseason is still a quick turnaround even with their early exit, especially since Bron was dealing with injuries. For his legacy, this year is defining for his stock all time and the constant Jordan debates. With his age and how the roster has been stacked with vets and no picks insight, it is hard to imagine that next year they will be better than they are now. Usually, 3 stars give some wiggle room in the playoffs, allowing a team to win a series even if 1 of the 3 is sidelined by injuries. This simply isn’t the case in this situation. If Davis or Lebron go down, Russ and either of them will be buried by this deep West.

Buying or Selling: Anthony Davis

Lastly, we have the great Anthony Davis. When healthy and firing on all cylinders, he is historically dominant. Unfortunately, he now can be branded with an official injury-prone stamp across his brow. Buying stock on AD could be beneficial because his hype has cooled off a bit with the injuries and piss poor 3 point shooting last year. But with his legacy, if he does not look like the best big on the floor or get injured again, the Joker, Embiid, and Giannis may solidify themselves as a tier above the once best big in basketball. The talk of AD needing now to play the 5 more often in the addition of the non-shooter of Westbrook looks logical on paper, yet people seem to miss the key reason why Davis demands to play the 4. The center is simply a different sport in basketball. The physicality and overall wear and pain inflicted on bigs at the 5 is tremendously more than playing the hovering free-safety at the 4. Davis has a low threshold for pain. In the dialect of the NBA, he’s Charmin Soft. So, as much as Davis at the 5 is the answer to unlocking their potential, if they depend on the majority of regular-season minutes with AD playing center, you can give him at least a 50-50 he misses playoff games come the post-season.

My Picks

If there were a place to gamble ideological stock on players, I would bet due to this Westbrook misstep and how poorly they managed the Schröder situation, Lebron’s 2020 title was his last. The Russell Westbrook trade will be another big-name misstep made by the Lakers’ franchise and he will not retire in Los Angeles. And with the team itself, if to put actual collateral in Vegas, I predict they won’t make the Western Conference Finals.

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