ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said last Tuesday on Jalen and Jacoby that he believes the Los Angeles Lakers are the team to beat in the NBA this season, not the Brooklyn Nets.
Rose’s comments come amid the Lakers’ acquisition of nine-time All-Star point guard and 2016-2017 MVP, Russell Westbrook, along with Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk to name a few.
“Now all I see is the best team in basketball…Malik Monk, 40% 3-point shooting, Kendrick Nunn, 40% 3-point shooting, both of those guys are amazing heat-check players. That’s going to give them their youth,” Rose said. “Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double with the Wizards last year. The Lakers, in my opinion, are the clear-cut best team in basketball. If they stay healthy, LeBron James is getting another ring this year.”
Rose’s comments have merit, as the Lakers shot just 34.9% from behind the arc last season, good for 23rd in the league. The arrivals of Nunn and Monk should help improve that mark, as the two shot 38% and 40% from three respectively.
Nunn, 26, and Monk, 23, also represent the limited amount of youth in the squad, as Rose notes. They make up two of the three players on the roster under 28 years old.
The experience of the team is the headliner, as James is supplemented by veterans Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Rajon Rondo and Trevor Ariza. Westbrook, 32, figures to be a key cog in head coach Frank Vogels’s offense, coming off a season with the Washington Wizards in which he averaged 22.2PPG, 11.7APG and 11.5RPG.
The 2019-2020 NBA Champions were notably bounced in six games to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs last season. An injury to Davis squandered any chance Los Angeles had to defeat the Western Conference Champions.
The Lakers will be chasing championship No. 18, and James, 36, will be looking for his fifth ring this season as he enters the first of a two-year, $85 million extension that takes him through the 2022-2023 season.