On Jul. 1, LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in search of renewed championship hopes following a devastating blowout loss in the 2017-18 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. After switching teams for the third time in his career, the four-time MVP was greeted with extreme enthusiasm from Lakers fans, selling out LA’s Staples Center for his preseason debut on Oct. 1. However, the Lakers have started off the season with a mediocre start, and are on pace to miss the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.
“Honestly, it was disappointing to see the Lakers struggle so early in the season,” said Claire Kim (10), junior varsity basketball player. “I was looking forward to seeing the LeBron lead his team to multiple victories. It is still early in the season, so there is still hope for Lakers fans as LeBron learns to both play with and lead his younger teammates.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle ahead of LeBron James is the young core of rookies and sophomore players that he must lead. Two-thirds of the entire Lakers roster is comprised of players 25 years old and under, making them one of the youngest squads in the league. Their lack of self-control was highlighted when third-year player Brandon Ingram got involved in a fistfight against the Houston Rockets in the second game of the season, which resulted in a four-game suspension and $400,000 fine for the 21-year-old. The suspension will hold force the Lakers to play their backup players in order to fill in the hole left by Ingram. To aid in the leadership of the young players on the team, the Lakers have signed several veteran players, such as Rajon Rondo, who has been in the league for 13 seasons.
“Before LeBron moved to LA, the Lakers were not an established superteam in the NBA,” said Coach Munro, varsity basketball coach. “The Lakers obviously have a lot of young talent, but they lack experience. In an attempt to build a championship caliber team, the Lakers are signing players like Rondo and older, more experienced players.”
Although LeBron James has struggled to lead his team to victory in his first three games, he is no stranger to this phenomenon. In fact, every time LeBron has joined a new team, he has always lost his debut game. Despite the team’s losing record, many fans are hopeful that LeBron can end the five-year playoff drought in Los Angeles and one day bring a championship to Hollywood.
“Although the Lakers have had a slow start to the season, I think they will be able to bounce back under LeBron’s leadership,” said Shawn Yoon (10), Lakers fan. “LeBron has been putting up amazing numbers throughout these losses, and has been playing at a superstar level every night. He has been averaging around 30 points per game and is third in the league for points scored. I have no doubt in my mind that the Lakers will improve this season, and they should not be judged based off such a small sample size of three games.”