Blogtable: Is this LeBron James' best (or last) shot at a fourth title?
Our scribes chime in on LeBron James and the Lakers' championship hopes
From NBA.com Staff
* * *
Is this LeBron’s best/last shot at a fourth NBA title?
* * *
Steve Aschburner: Not so sure about “last,” but I think this is the best shot he’ll have at winning a fourth ring. This is such an unusual, distraction-laden situation, playing into October in this “bubble” environment, with nothing resembling home court or partisan fans, that James’ Terminator-like laser focus should be enough to get the Lakers to The Finals. Then, whichever team comes out of the East will be significant underdogs IMO, and not nearly as good as five of the six teams that hung losses on LBJ’s 3-6 Finals ledger. Only the 2011 Mavericks were on part with this year’s East representative, whomever it is, and that Dallas team beat a far less experienced James crew.
Shaun Powell: Yes, yes. The Lakers are entering this restart as a strong favorite mainly because LeBron and Anthony Davis are healthy, and they played well against the contenders right before the hiatus, and so just from that standpoint, this gives him a solid shot at a third title with a third team. Here’s why it’s his last shot: He can’t take any of that for granted starting next season. He’ll have another year of tread on his 35-year-old wheels, Davis has never stayed completely healthy in his career, and the competition will stiffen as the Bucks, Clippers, Nuggets, Celtics are all built to last and, look out, here come the revamped Warriors and Nets.
John Schuhmann: It’s certainly not his last shot at a championship, because the Lakers should be a contender next season. But there’s a strong argument for it being his best shot from this point forward, even if the odds aren’t better than 1 in 3. LeBron is 35 years old, only two players in NBA history have played as many minutes (regular season and playoffs combined), and the Western Conference should be even stronger next season. We can assume that Anthony Davis will re-sign with the Lakers in the fall, but we’ll have to see how salary-cap changes affect their ability to add additional talent and have somebody else shoulder some of the playmaking duties as LeBron continues to age. He’s not their only rotation player over the age of 30 and they have a Draft-pick deficit going forward.
Sekou Smith: It feels like we’ve been asking this same question since 2016. It’s clear to me that LeBron, no matter what the first glimpse of him in the bubble suggests, is going to play forever. However, this might be his last and best shot to win that fourth NBA title as the clear best player on his team. But if he continues to work alongside Anthony Davis in his prime, the Lakers will be contenders in the Western Conference for at least the next three seasons. LeBron has continually defied and exceeded expectations during his 17 NBA seasons. So I don’t feel comfortable putting a cap on what he could do in the near future. Until I see signs of a significant drop off, I’m going to continue believing that he’ll be in title mix.
Michael C. Wright: I’ll say “best”, but certainly not “last” shot for LeBron. How many years have the pundits tried to write off this man, who from what I can see, keeps himself in meticulous enough shape to prolong his career beyond the usual NBA life expectancy? This registers as the “best” shot for LeBron because of some of the role players in the supporting cast signed to team-friendly deals such as Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley, J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters. But much of the future depends on whether Anthony Davis decides to re-sign with the Lakers. If Davis decides to re-up, LeBron will have a couple more chances to win titles. Even if Davis doesn’t return, I’m not still not comfortable counting out LeBron.