NBA Restart: 2019-20
NBA Restart: 2019-20

2019-20 Season Reset: Los Angeles Lakers

Shaun Powell

Shaun Powell

Archive

Jun 5, 2020 2:23 PM ET

 

Anthony Davis and LeBron James have the Lakers looking sharp out West.

The 2019-20 NBA season went on hiatus on March 11 because of  the coronavirus pandemic. The season will return on July 30 and NBA.com's writers are taking an updated look at each of the league's 30 teams.

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Record: 49-14, No. 1 in Western Conference

Season summary: The pairing of LeBron James with Anthony Davis paid off immediately for the Lakers because both players performed up to expectation and their own high standards. After that, the team took ownership of the West. To date, the two All-Star starters are teaming up to average roughly 50 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists per game and plenty of whiplash-causing highlights. They arguably represented the NBA’s best duo and impact-wise ranked right with the Stephen Curry-Kevin Durant pairing the last few seasons. The Lakers have thrived and ruled the West record-wise one season after LeBron’s groin injury (and an inability deal for Davis at the trade deadline) led them to a 37-47 finish. With only a few scattered exceptions, this season remained hiccup-free for the Lakers, thanks largely to LeBron and Davis staying healthy. Speaking of health, the Lakers' depth took a bit of a hit before restart play began as guard Avery Bradley opted out of playing for personal reasons. Led by a resurgent Dwight Howard, the Lakers' role players have fallen into place for maximum success. In addition to Howard, who gave the best bang for the buck in the NBA, the Lakers received solid results from Danny Green.

 
The Lakers took down the Clippers in a key game on March 8.

Breakout player: Alex Caruso may be short on hair and resume, but he has been big on surprise this season. He slowly rose in the rotation to where now the coaching staff was more comfortable with him on the floor than the slumping Rajon Rondo. Caruso has embraced a role that, depending on the game, is enhanced in the moment. He’s shooting 35.5% on 3-pointers (a drop from 48% last season), but he can be a dangerous option whenever LeBron looks for the open man. His value was such that the Lakers resisted offers for him at the trade deadline.

 
Alex Caruso has taken a unique journey to find a solid role in the NBA.

Statement win: Five days before the NBA season went on hiatus, the Lakers and Bucks met at Staples Center on March 6. This was a chance for the Lakers to not only avenge their 111-104 loss in Milwaukee on Dec. 19, but for LeBron to change the conversation on the Kia MVP race as well. It was mission accomplished -- times two. Los Angeles punished Milwaukee with a 10-point win by controlling the game virtually from the opening tip. LeBron was the best player on the court, outscoring Giannis Antetokounmpo (37 points to 30) while adding eight rebounds and eight assists -- all while defending Antetokounmpo with success at times. It was evident on that night LeBron was out to repel one of the players who will ultimately replace him as the NBA’s premier talent.

Most compelling game: After beating the Bucks, the Lakers faced their next challenge on March 8: figuring out the LA Clippers. This was a game that captured the attention of the league and was circled on many calendars for months. The Clippers had a 2-0 lead in the season series and had established themselves as the Lakers’ biggest threat in the West. (In certain corners, the Clippers -- and not the Lakers -- were seen as the favorite to win the West.) As he did against Giannis a few days earlier, LeBron got the best of a superstar matchup (this time against Kawhi Leonard). Yet it was hardly a one-man show as the Lakers led for good in the third quarter with LeBron on the bench. Thanks to 30 points from Anthony Davis and six 3-pointers by Bradley, the Lakers won 112-103.

 
LeBron James got the better of Giannis Antetokounmpo in their March 6 showdown.

Memorable moments: Those back-to-back wins against the Bucks and Clippers was undoubtedly the chest-beating moment of the Lakers’ season. But don’t forget: this team won 24 of its first 27 games to break from the pack in the West. After that came a four-game skid -- and then a nine-game win streak to secure the Lakers’ place in the West attic. There was also Davis’ anticipated return to New Orleans on Nov. 27. He dropped 41 points on his former team that was still awaiting the debut of rookie Zion Williamson.

Team MVP: It takes a special player to upstage Davis, but LeBron at 35 is still very much in that class. Quite simply, LeBron delivered a performance for the aged. Only a select handful of players -- a short list included Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone -- have impacted the NBA in their mid-30s like James has. Handed the ball and the job of directing the Lakers’ offense, LeBron’s playmaking has never looked sharper, as evident by his leading the NBA in assists. Considering his age and how 2019-20 went, LeBron has pieced together one of the finest performances of his career, which is no small feat.

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him  here, find his archive here  and follow him on  Twitter .

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. 


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