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The NBA’s general managers have overwhelmingly (81%) picked the Lakers to win it all again in 2021. What say you?
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Steve Aschburner: I’d say the GMs of this league are about as shrewd, insightful and risk-tolerant as your average fan on the street. The Lakers were defending champions when the bubble ended and, in a clear consensus of opinions, got better this offseason by adding the likes of Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol. OK, they lost some perimeter defense now that Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Danny Green have moved on, but this autumn breakout of Talen Horton-Tucker suggests he’s capable of helping at both ends. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are constants, so the GMs are totally playing it safe.
Shaun Powell: I’ll take the Lakers over the field. Not only do they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis going for them (health permitting of course), but they upgraded at nearly every position in the off-season. Finally: Without needing to play before hostile road crowds that would give underdogs some hope and momentum in the playoffs, the no-fans format once again is favorable to LA. So, yeah, it’s a Laker World; deal with it.
John Schuhmann: Given what we know about the league’s contenders, the champs are the favorite, for sure. But we still have a lot to learn about both the Lakers and the teams chasing them. The Clippers, Nets, Bucks and Sixers (along with the Lakers themselves) all made major changes, while the Mavs, Nuggets, Celtics and Heat all have young stars that should continue to get better. Given the circumstances of this season, it could be tougher than usual for new groups/combinations to find a rhythm, but let’s call the Lakers the clear preseason favorites and revisit this in March or April.
Sekou Smith: Having witnessed the Lakers grind through the Orlando bubble to the title, it’s hard to imagine another team beating a healthy LeBron James-Anthony Davis-led team four times in a playoff series. Maybe it’s more likely to happen in a normal playoff setting, which I am counting on to finish this season. But based on the way they finished the job in the bubble, it’s hard to imagine someone taking them down. The league’s general managers (well, the 81% at least) are right on this one. It’s the Lakers at the top of the heap until another legitimate challenger emerges this season.
Michael C. Wright: Tough to disagree with the GMs based off the moves the Lakers made this offseason to fortify depth while upgrading at other spots, especially in the frontcourt. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle recently talked about how the Lakers won the 2019-20 championship with defense that generated a good portion of their offense. That element is still there for the Lakers, as is their versatility to play either big or small. Besides that, it’s never a good idea to bet against the league’s best player in LeBron James when he’s paired with such a marquee talent in Anthony Davis.