What’s Next For LeBron and the Lakers?

Looking back at the Los Angeles Lakers season after being swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, it is pretty remarkable that the Lakers had even gotten to this point. Starting the year 2-10, the early part of the season looked grim for the Lakers. 12 games into the season, they had the worst-ranked offense in the league, were ranked 28th in Net rating, and 17th in defense. With their first-round pick in the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans from the Anthony Davis trade 4 years ago, there seemed to be no direction or hope for this franchise. After a flurry of trades before the trade deadline to rearrange the roster, the Lakers found themselves back in the playoff hunt with their newly put-together team playing at an elite level. Trade targets D’Angelo Russell, Jared Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and Rui Hachimura all found ways to help the team in their own way, and role players like Dennis Schroder and Austin Reaves elevated their games. Post all-star break, the Los Angeles Lakers looked like a completely different team that started the season, with their star player Anthony Davis playing his best ball of the season. The Purple and Gold finished the season with a 16-7 record, the best record in the Western Conference during the final stretch of the season, and found their way into the play-in game.

Entering the playoffs as the #7 seed in the West, the Lakers had an uphill battle to get to where they wanted to. With Anthony Davis healthy and playing like an elite big man, LeBron was able to pace himself for quick bursts of energy throughout the first couple of rounds of the playoffs. At 38 years old, King James was able to impact the game in a variety of ways and had moments where he looked like the best athlete on the floor. After two tough series against the #2 seed Memphis Grizzlies and defending Champion Golden State Warriors, the Lakers were in for a tough test against the best team in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets, led by two-time MVP and triple-double machine Nikola Jokic. Every game was close, but the Nuggets were simply the better team and swept the Lakers in 4 games. But LeBron didn’t go out without a swing. With his back against the wall down 0-3 in the series, LBJ had arguably his best game of this playoff run, scoring 30 points in the first half and finishing the game with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. He played the entire 48 minutes and competed hard on both ends of the floor, picking up Jokic for the majority of the second half and impacting the game in so many ways. Somehow, it wasn’t enough to outlast the Nuggets who proved why they’re the favourite to win the title this season.

Although the Lakers didn’t reach their ultimate goal of winning the NBA Championship, it was impressive how they were able to turn around their season with so many new faces added to the roster midway through the season. In his 20th NBA season, 38-year-old LeBron battled through a foot injury but still managed to have moments of brilliance and lead his team through three grueling playoff series. Leading one of the best turnarounds in NBA history, LeBron proved that he still has some great basketball left in the tank. With his son Bronny James planning to play at USC next season, LeBron’s hope of joining forces with his Bronny in the NBA is looking more and more likely. But in LeBron’s post-game press conference following the Game 4 loss, he ended his interview with an eye-raising quote.

In the final moments of LeBron’s postgame presser, LBJ said “I got a lot to think about, to be honest, and just for me personally going forward the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about,” causing a frenzy in the NBA media.

His fellow 2003 draftee and close friend Carmelo Anthony just announced his retirement from the NBA, leaving LeBron as the only player left from the legendary 2003 draft class. Bron and Melo had played against each other on National TV in high school and came up together in the NBA as the league’s brightest young superstars.

With Melo hanging up the sneakers, many wondered if his cryptic quote meant that LeBron was also contemplating retirement and if this would be his last game of his unbelievable 20-year career. Some thought he may take a year off before returning to play with Bronny. Others thought that this was overblown and will be back to reload with the Lakers next season. Whatever the case may be, LeBron has proved that he is one of the most durable and impressive athletes in all of sports and we would be lucky to watch him play another season.

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