LeBron James justified to believe in Lakers championship ambitions

LeBron James was asked if he believes the Los Angeles Lakers can win another championship with him on the roster. His response was more rational than it seems.
2020 NBA Finals - Game Six
2020 NBA Finals - Game Six / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

LeBron James is nearing the end of one of the greatest careers in the history of professional sports. A four-time NBA champion, four-time Finals MVP, four-time regular season MVP, and record 20-time All-NBA honoree, James has dominated with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat.

As James prepares for his landmark age-40 season, the NBA's all-time leading scorer is firm in his belief that he can add another piece of hardware to his almost unrivaled collection.

James' tenure with the Lakers has included a championship season in 2019-20 and a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2022-23. After a disappointing exit in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs, however, Los Angeles has been penciled in as a team past its expiration date.

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, James scoffs at the idea that the window has closed and believes that the Lakers can still contend as long as he and Anthony Davis are on the roster.

"Because we've done it before. We've done it before, and we still have two guys who commit every single day with myself and AD [Anthony Davis]. We commit to excellence and commit to win. And we feel like any situation, any given year, we can put ourselves in a position to be able to succeed. And we're not that far off."

It's a fair belief, no matter how outlandish a claim it may seem like coming off of a 47-win season, an appearance in the Play-In Tournament, and a first-round exit.

LeBron James believes Lakers can win another championship

In 2022-23, the Lakers defeated Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, and Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors en route to the Western Conference Finals. This past season, Los Angeles overcame Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans in the Play-In Tournament.

In both instances, the Lakers' championship aspirations came crashing down at the hands of three-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

Having come just one round shy of competing for a championship in 2023, however, it's easy to see why James remains optimistic in 2024. He and Davis are, without question, one of the best duos in the NBA—even in their 30s. Or, in James' case, nearly his 40s.

This past season, both Davis and James were named All-NBA, with the former being the only player in the Association to receive both All-NBA and All-Defense recognition in 2023-24.

Questions remain about Davis and James' ability to remain healthy enough to lead the Lakers to a top-four seed in a stacked Western Conference. Just as many concerns have arisen about the quality of the depth of the roster, as well as how prepared JJ Redick is to win at the highest level as a head coach.

The roster is generally regarded as stronger than it showed in 2023-24, however, and there are reasons to believe that the team can return to contender status.

For one, Los Angeles' rank of 24th in three-point field goals was purely a product of a stylistic flaw, as the team also ranked No. 8 in three-point field goal percentage. Furthermore, high-level contributors Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, and D'Angelo Russell inexplicably spent spells as reserves last season.

With more stability in the rotation and a greater emphasis on spacing the floor, the Lakers could realistically improve from winning 47 games in 2023-24. At that point, it simply becomes a matter of Davis and James having to lose four out of seven games in a playoff series.

It's happened before, yes, but so has a championship season—as well as a Western Conference Finals appearance with an almost identical supporting cast.

Perhaps James' ambition isn't as farfetched as some might presume.