WHAT IF LEBRON & AD WAS NEVER A LAKER?
BEAST DOME NATION.
Here is a hypothetical different universe possibility. When Kobe tore his Achilles in 2013, the Lakers knew it was the end of his era in Los Angeles, time to rebuild. The Lakers ended up with a lottery pick, something that is foreign to Lakers Fans. The Lakers selected Julius Randle with that pick in the 2014 Draft, as well as Jordan Clarkson in the 2nd Round. Kobe and the Lakers had a bad tanking year which horrifically saw Randle only play one game as a Laker before suffering a season-ending injury. Lakers tanked again and selected D’Angelo Russell in the 1st Round, Larry Nance in the 2nd Round.
Heading into Kobe’s last season, a team with a starting 5 that could have consisted of.
Kobe decided to throw in the towel before the season started, but not without one last tour of the NBA. It was Kobe’s farewell season. Something we all deserved to witness, Kobe going into any arena on any given night shooting 25+ times with ease, sometimes 30 times total when you include all the times he went to the FT Line. His FG% was not great, a career-low. However we all loved to see the Mamba fire away at all times. His 50 shot attempt final game beating a Jazz team that was fighting for a playoff, Kobe scoring 60 points in that victory performance was easily the best walk-off legendary performance in the history of sports.
Regardless, the Lakers did not try to win that year. Coached by Byron Scott, who had one job which was to make sure Kobe was well managed. The 2016 Draft came, and the Lakers selected Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac. Another tanking season with no Kobe or, “leadership” made famous by Magic Johnson about D’Angelo Russell. Lead to 2017 where the Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. They also snagged undrafted Thomas Bryant who is a double-double BEAST, unfortunate injury this year. The Lakers did lose D’Angelo Russell in a trade for the Kuzma pick, only because the Lakers took Lonzo over Tatum. They also dumped a ton of salary in Mozgov.
This Lakers team at this point and time was all dissolved so they can land the money to get LeBron, and then trade everyone else away to get Anthony Davis. Let us look at their squad.
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: D’Angelo Russell
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Thomas Bryant
6th Man: Jordan Clarkson
Backup swingman: Josh Hart
Backup combo wing: Larry Nance/Kyle Kuzma (If you include him)
Backup Big Man: Ivica Zuba
This team would likely have the money to land a big name. The real question is, are the Lakers better off with the Roster they have now with Lebron + AD? Yes 100%, while this hypothetical team is flashy on paper, like the Knicks led by Randle, and like the Pelicans led by Ingram and basically everyone else, neither team is winning a Championship until LeBron James and Giannis Retire. This hypothetical team is talented, but nobody on this list is making the All-Time Lakers squad. Once Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle start in All-Star games and receive MVP votes, we can talk again.
The other question is, how good would this team be? Definitely a playoff squad, better than today’s T’Wolves. Better than today’s Knicks. Better than this Nuggets squad with their health. Better than the Phoenix Suns. Competes with the Clippers, loses to the real Lakers. Competes with the Heat, losses to the Nets, probably loses to the Bucks. Could upset the 76ers.
In the end, if this squad had one other big name. Like LeBron James, who demanded they trade everything away for Anthony Davis. Though the Lakers did win the Championship last season because of that move, cannot question that. This Lakers squad above with LeBron James would definitely be a contender to win it all today and continue the next decade of dominance. With that being said, as long as Anthony Davis remains a Laker for the decade, the pieces will be glued together to keep the Lakers winning.