Luke Walton thinks Lakers can be championship contender
The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into a dice roll of an NBA season, having secured the biggest free agent of the summer in LeBron James and surrounding him with a plethora of supporting pieces on one-year deals. Lakers head coach Luke Walton is optimistic about his team, though, even going as far as thinking they have championship potential down the stretch.
While there are sure to be plenty of growing pains that come with assembling a new team and figuring out players’ roles, Walton thinks the Lakers will be well-oiled enough to make a run for the title.
“September, probably not. Do I think come April, come playoff months? Absolutely I think we are,” said Walton as a guest in an ESPN LA Radio special: An Evening With The Lakers. “It takes time. You never just put a team together and they’re instantly a championship contender. That’s what the regular season is going to be all about this year. That’s what these guys coming in every day, playing together, getting to know each other, lifting weights together, is about.”
“I think by the time the season comes and goes and we get towards the playoffs, if all goes the way we plan, then yeah, I truly believe we are.”
The Lakers now boast something they haven’t had the past two seasons: a catalyst type of player who can turn a mediocre team into a playoff front-runner.
James has now been a staple in the playoffs for the past 13 years and a fixture in the NBA Finals for the last eight, recently carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back throughout 104 games (82 regular-season games, and 22 playoff outings).
If there is still enough juice in James’ legs (and there is no proof to believe there isn’t), the Lakers could come together and hit their stride before making a postseason run, making that a matter of mental fortitude to push through a stacked Western Conference.