The Los Angeles Lakers square off against the Golden State Warriors for the second time in the preseason on Friday night. Golden State emerged victoriously in the first preseason game of the year, which might have some Bay Area fans overly excited about what is to come this season.
Golden State should be a better team than last season with the addition of Chris Paul. This definitely is a Warriors team that deserves respect as they just won the title less than two years ago.
However, when it ultimately comes down to it, the Warriors still are not on the same level as the Lake Show. Regardless of preseason outcomes, the Lakers are miles ahead of their California rivals. If the two were to square off in the NBA Playoffs it would be even more lopsided than it was last season.
Let’s break down the reasons why.
Why the Lakers are miles ahead of the Warriors:
This is the deepest roster that the Lakers have fielded around LeBron James and is one of the deepest in franchise history. Top to bottom the Lakers are loaded in talent and can comfortably put together a rotation that is 12 or 13 deep.
That is not the case for the Golden State Warriors, who spend so much money at the top of the roster that the bottom of the roster suffers. The starting five is solid but the team is relying on the likes of Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, Gary Payton II, Kevon Looney and Dario Saric as the depth options.
CP3 might be a very good sixth man but behind him, there are a lot of question marks. This will be easier to make in the NBA Playoffs when the rotation shrinks, but overall, it puts the Warriors behind the 8-ball.
2. The Lakers have a better defense
While offense is flashy and gets all the highlights, defense does still win championships. Granted, having a superhuman center like Nikola Jokic can help a team overcome an average defense but in most cases, defense wins championships.
Fans just have to go back to the 2022 NBA Finals as the perfect example. The Warriors and Boston Celtics were the two top teams in the league in defensive rating that season. While there was a lot of offensive firepower on both sides, it was the defense that put them over the top.
Golden State doesn’t have that same defensive firepower. The Warriors took a step back last season and ranked 17th in defensive rating. The team should naturally improve by swapping out Jordan Poole for CP3, but this is still a league-average defense at best.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have a lot of defensive potential and can really lock teams down when they need to. Yes, there are holes like D’Angelo Russell and Christian Wood but those holes can easily be fixed when the Lakers need to focus on defense and get a stop.
Los Angeles ranked 11th in defensive rating last season. That is only going to get better.
3. The Lakers have ways to pivot while the Warriors are stuck
Even if things are not going exactly as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers, the team has ways to pivot. The moves that Rob Pelinka made at the 2023 deadline and in the offseason gave the team something it did not have the previous two years: flexibility.
Los Angeles could package D’Lo with contracts or even craft a deal big enough to get a star if need be. There are ways to reasonably improve the roster. That doesn’t mean the Lakers are destined to make moves, but the opportunity to is there.
The same cannot be said for the Warriors, who are kind of stuck with the roster they have. CP3 is not going to generate anything on the trade market while Moody and Kuminga have lost most of their value. The only real way Golden State can improve is on the buyout market. And even then, the Lakers will have a stronger presence there.