Depth Perception: Is Miami the first test of the Lakers’ depth?

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images /

The Miami Heat are no pushovers for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Dynamic duos have long been the staple of great Los Angeles Lakers teams, but overall, roster depth has not.

The LeBron James and Anthony Davis duo is no different. Although Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, and others are capable players, there is a clear hierarchy in terms of who takes the most shots on this team.

In fact, a lot of teams in the NBA are structured around a star duo. The Lakers have played a few of them.

In the first round, the Lakers took on the scorching Portland Trail Blazers. Although Jusuf Nurkic, Carmelo Anthony, and others were key contributors, the true fate of the Blazers rested in the hands of their star backcourt comprised of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

After vanquishing the Blazers in five, The Lakers squared off against yet another duo: James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Although Westbrook was not at full strength, it’s abundantly clear that Houston relied almost entirely on the scoring and shot creation of both Harden and Westbrook.

The two former MVPs played an isolation style of basketball where they either took a shot or kicked it out to a teammate for a three-pointer. The Lakers dropped Game 1 but quickly figured out this simple style of play to defeat the Houston Rockets in five games.

In the Western Conference Finals, The Denver Nuggets were able to sneak past the far deeper Los Angeles Clippers in a stellar 3-1 comeback. Although the Nuggets play a deep rotation, they were by no means boasting two sixth man of the year candidates like the Clippers.

Monté Morris, Michael Porter Jr., and others were a nice punch, but it became clear when Porter Jr. questioned his team’s play-calling in the second half of game 4 that All-Stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are the clear-cut stars in Denver.

To sum things up, the Lakers have simply vanquished lesser duos thus far in the playoffs: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in round one. James Harden and Russell Westbrook in round two. And, last but not least, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in the Western Conference Finals.

Duos are all the rage in the NBA right now, but they’re far from the only way to construct a team. I present to you the Miami Heat.

Although the Heat boast two all-stars like many other Laker opponents this postseason, the rest of their lineup is not to be slept on. In addition to all-stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, the Heat have a slew of other players capable of carrying the scoring load.

In the 2020 playoffs, the Heat have six players averaging double figures in scoring and 4 averaging over fifteen points per game. Although many overlook him Goran “The Dragon” Dragic is a former All-Star and is leading the team in scoring during their run at 20.9 points per game.

Additionally, rookie phenom Tyler Herro went off for 37 points in Game 4 against the Celtics and is averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game off the bench.

Fellow rookie Duncan Robinson has been no slouch either. The sharpshooter is averaging 11 and put up over fifteen points three times in the conference finals alone. Robinson was fourth in three-point percentage and third in makes in the regular season. He’s shooting 40 percent from downtown in these playoffs.

Last but not least, it’s important to mention former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. Although he’s getting older, Andre Iguodala is still one of the best defenders in the game. Nobody can stop LeBron, but Iggy has done a solid job containing him. With Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler adding depth to help him, Andre’s defense can have a huge impact on this series.

To make matters worse for the Lakers, Iggy is coming off of a game where he made all five of his shots from the field and went 4-4 from the arc in the closeout game five victory against the Celtics.

The Lakers may have the two best weapons in the NBA, but don’t sleep on the Heat. To me, this series is eerily reminiscent of the 2004 NBA Finals.

In 2004, the heavily-favored Lakers were loaded with a prime Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and veteran Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton. However, it was the balanced scoring, depth, and scrappy defense of the Detroit Pistons that vanquished the Lakers in just five games.

Next. Key to winning Game 1 of the NBA Finals. dark

Will the Lakers’ star power be enough? We’ll see which of the other Lakers can counter Miami’s depth when the Finals kick-off.