The Los Angeles Lakers are rolling this season. The Orange County Register reports that the Purple and Gold are comparing favorably to past Lakers teams, with a plus-4 offensive rating (Ortg) of 112.9 and a minus-5.7 defensive rating (Drtg) of 103.2. In contrast, the 1985–1986 Showtime Lakers that roared to a 24-3 start had a 113.3 Ortg (plus-6.1) and 105.8 Drtg (minus-1.4), while the 1999–2000 Shaq-Kobe Lakers had a 107.3 Ortg (plus-3.2), 98.2 Drtg (minus-5.9).
Needless to say, this team is looking pretty special and is inspiring championship thoughts among the most loyal and engaged fan base in all of sports. Lakers fans are passionate about their Purple and Gold, and they are no doubt watching a legit championship contender. bwin Basketball details how the Lakers have looked like the team to beat this season, especially after an impressive 10-game winning streak bridging November and December. They are now one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference and are playing true to form. The Lakers are playing so well, in fact, that they might actually notch 70 wins this season — a feat accomplished by the 1995–1996 Chicago Bulls and the 2015–2016 Golden State Warriors.
The superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis (‘Bron-Brow) are a big reason for this early success. The King looks like a man in his prime, averaging 27.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 10.8 assists. Davis, meanwhile, is making a case for Defensive Player of the Year, as he has been anchoring the Lakers’ defense.
“I take pride in my defense,” Davis said, who is averaging 2.7 swats a game. “Anytime late game when guys feel like they can score on me, I take it personally and try to play without fouling and get stops for my team.” His tactics seem to be working as opponents shoot a paltry 37% with Davis as their closest defender. This Davis-led defense, in turn, surrenders only 104.6 points per game (5th best in the NBA) and is a big reason why the Lakers have a +9.8 point differential (2nd only to the Milwaukee Bucks’ +13.3).
Crucially Davis and LeBron are playing with an undeniable synergy. The King is the playmaker and looking for The Brow as often as possible. This superstar two-man game has mostly left opponents discombobulated, as it has been close to un-guardable. The two are currently averaging a combined 52 points, but are more than capable of going for more.
But the Lakers are more than just James and Davis. Kyle Kuzma is starting to get into a groove as the Purple and Gold’s third wheel, easing the pressure off of the team’s awesome twosome. Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, meanwhile, are playing well enough to trouble defenses. Rajon Rondo is finding ways to contribute as an additional playmaker, while JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard have both been solid. Even Alex Caruso is providing a spark off the bench. In other words, this rip-roaring start has been a total team effort. This same team effort figures to carry the Lakers to a lot more wins this season.
Ultimately, though, any march towards 70 wins (and a potential championship) will hinge on that ‘Bron-Brow partnership. If both keep playing at this MVP level (and resist the urge of load management) then the sky is the limit for the Lakers.