The consensus has been that the Lakers are cruising so far. This is a team winning games despite a bubble hangover. That was evident in their recent loss to the Warriors, and it even surfaced against Milwaukee.
What the Lakers did in the offseason, though, increased their margin for error. James and Anthony Davis don’t have to be as assertive as last season with Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell’s scoring. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came up big on Thursday, too.
Davis’ scoring has dropped off. James hadn’t reached the 30-point mark in a game until his three-point display on Thursday. The Lakers, for much of last season, were struggling to have a third player average double figures. They have six averaging 10 or more points per game this season.
James stepped up against the Bucks, and Caldwell-Pope’s 23 was arguably the difference between the teams. What was significant, though, was how even with Schroder scoring four points and Kyle Kuzma scoring five on just six shot attempts, the Lakers managed to score 113 against one of the league’s toughest defenses.
While supposedly in second gear, the Lakers own the best defensive rating in the NBA. James and Davis are not overly exerting themselves. The Lakers are top of the Western Conference and already have wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. The two preseason favorites for MVP have been unable to overcome the reigning champions.
Everything about the Lakers’ start to the season should terrify the rest of the NBA. LeBron still shows no significant signs of ageing. He’s even shooting the ball better than he ever has. A team which lost just five games in their playoff run has got deeper. When it came to putting a marker down against another contender, they kept the Bucks at arms length for most of the game.
It was the performance of a champion team. If you were picking the Lakers or the field right now, it’s hard to go against the team in purple and gold.