It is safe to say that it is championship or bust for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2023-24 season. LeBron James only has so many NBA seasons left in him and this very well could be his last with the Lake Show. Making the Western Conference Finals as a moral victory will not be celebrated like it was last season.
With arguably the deepest roster in the entire league, it is fair for the team and the fanbase to have these expectations. Los Angeles is one of the premier title contenders in the league but fans want to do more than just contend. They want to win.
All that being said, the Lakers still have a tough path in the loaded Western Conference. The Denver Nuggets are still the team to beat, the Phoenix Suns have the best “big three” in the league, and there are countless other Western Conference teams who will be tough to play in the NBA Playoffs.
One of those Western Conference foes was just delivered a huge blow on Sunday. The Memphis Grizzlies, who lost to the Lakers in the NBA Playoffs and have to play without Ja Morant for 25 games, will be without Steven Adams for the entire season.
Grizzlies become less of a title threat for the Lakers after Steven Adams injury
While the Lakers made relatively quick work of the Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, Memphis still wasn’t a team that Los Angeles should have slept on. With Morant firing on all cylinders, the Grizzlies are a dangerous team that could upset anyone.
A fully healthy Memphis team is exactly the kind of team that no contender wants to play in the first or second round of the playoffs. Without Adams, though, they are not much of a threat at all to the purple and gold.
Adams may not be an all-star-caliber player but his size and what he does for the team (specifically Jaren Jackson) is hugely important against a team like the Lakers. Los Angeles was able to bully Memphis with its size in that playoff series because Adams was not playing and triple-J could not be fully utilized.
Could Memphis still be a bad matchup for another team? Sure. Another team without size (Warriors, for example) could absolutely be upset by the Grizzlies in the NBA Playoffs.
But as far as the Lake Show is concerned, the Grizzlies just turned into the same team that was easily beaten in the first round last year. Los Angeles still has to get through Phoenix and Denver but the path to those two teams just got easier.