Los Angeles Lakers: Is this team constructed to win in the playoffs?

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

With the playoffs in sight, is this Los Angeles Lakers team, as currently constructed, good enough to make a championship run?

Here we are, post All-Star break, in the final stretch of games before the 2020 NBA playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers have held the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference since October, maintained a top five offense/defense, and are sporting the best one-two punch in the league in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

After the trade deadline, the Lakers have only added Markieff Morris in the buyout market so far. The Clippers on the other hand, who are seen as the the team’s biggest challenger to come out of the Western Conference, made several addition to theirs — trading for Marcus Morris, and signing Reggie Jackson after he was bought out by the Detroit Pistons.

But is all of this overblown? We all know that the playoffs is a completely different animal than the regular season, and the Lakers have undoubtedly one of the best postseason performers of all time in LeBron James. In addition, for the first time since 2017, LeBron also has an All-NBA caliber player in Anthony Davis as his running mate.

To make a long story short, and to answer the question at the top of this article; yes, the Lakers have a roster capable of competing for a championship.

When things start to slow down in the playoffs, and shots don’t fall as much as they usually do, and each team knows everything there is to know about the other over the course of a seven-game series, star power tends to win out in these situations.

We’ve seen before how teams generally have to abandon their regular season philosophy in the face of intense game-planning by the opposition. A perfect example is the Kevin Durant-era Warriors, who went away from their ‘beautiful game’ style of off-ball movement, and smart passing, to a more isolation-centric offense when teams honed in on that movement.

It also helps when the star power a team does have, meshes well together. In the case of LeBron and AD, that is absolutely the case. LeBron is a world class playmaker, and AD is a dominant finisher around the rim. These two skill-sets go together like, dare I say, peanut butter and jelly.

This also carries over to the defensive end, where LeBron has been a great floor general, calling out switches, mismatches, and oftentimes opposing team’s plays. Davis has been able to utilize this information and become a dominant defensive force at nearly spot on the floor. In addition, their defense on the wing has been better than expected, with players like Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Alex Caruso all making major contributions.

It’s easy to point at the Lakers roster and talk about their weaknesses when it comes to secondary play-making and lack of wing depth, but nearly every playoff contender is also dealing with a weakness of their own.

For the Lakers, they have several above average defenders, an offensive philosophy that prioritizes high percentage shots around the rim, and enough shooting to keep the floor reasonably spaced for their two star players to operate.

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In addition, the team is also likely to end up with home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, which will add an extra game for a hungry Laker fanbase that hasn’t seen playoff basketball in six years.

With all this in mind, it would appear that things are set up perfectly for the Lakers to make a deep playoff run.