LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the process of gearing up for their upcoming first round playoff series vs the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in the seven vs eight Play-In game on Tuesday evening. The matchup vs the Nuggets of course signifies a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals, in which Denver swept James and the Lakers out of the playoffs in a series that was, oddly enough, very competitive despite Los Angeles not being able to register a single win.

James is widely accepted to be one of the two greatest players to ever pick up a basketball along with Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan. One person who has Jordan at the top of his list is ESPN sports media personality Stephen A. Smith, but the loquacious analyst delivered some surprising analysis on First Take Thursday morning ahead of the Lakers vs Nuggets clash.

“If LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the reigning, defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets, they could win it all,” said Smith, via First Take on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter. “…I have to confess, if LeBron James beats Denver and marches forward to ultimately win another chip, I don't know how strong my argument's going to be on behalf of Jordan moving forward.”

Do the Lakers have any chance?

As previously noted, the Lakers did not get in the win column a single time vs the Nuggets in their playoff matchup a season ago, and the results in 2023-24 were more of the same, as Denver beat Los Angeles all three times this regular season, including twice in the City of Angels.

Needless to say, the Nuggets are the clear betting favorites to once again defeat the Lakers, and the matchup isn't widely viewed as one of the more potentially competitive first round series.

However, the Lakers do still employ a couple of players by the names of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and have a supporting cast featuring D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, both of whom are playing the best basketball of their careers entering the postseason.

Of course, the true question will be how Reaves and Russell will be able to hold up on the defensive end of the floor, as both profile as below average (to put it generously) defenders. Historically speaking, championship-level teams cannot survive having more than one negative defender in their starting lineup, especially considering the fact that James at this point in his career is not necessarily a defensive stopper anymore either.

However, there is something to be said about the fact that generally, games between these two teams do go down to the wire, and once it gets to that point, a couple of missed or made shots can be the difference between winning and losing. James and the Lakers will get their first shot at the Nuggets on Saturday evening at 8:30 PM ET from the Ball Arena in Colorado.