The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most popular teams in the NBA. Their star player is LeBron James, who is the most popular player in the NBA. Putting those two things together, the Lakers are almost always involved in news and rumors.
The Lakers won the NBA championship in 2020. Since then, they were eliminated in the first round in 2021, and they failed to make the playoffs in 2022. Last season was a miserable one for the Lakers. While it seemed early on last summer that LA could possibly contend for a title, that hope quickly died away as the realization came about that the team was simply not as good as initially expected.
A great deal of blame was placed on Russell Westbrook, whose ball-dominant playstyle and shooting struggles did not fit as nicely with the way LeBron prefers to play. Even though LA’s struggles weren’t all Westbrook’s fault, he did have one of the most inefficient seasons of his career.
Recently, there have been rumors that the Lakers would be interested in trading for Kyrie Irving. Los Angeles is eager to win as many championships as they can as long as LeBron James is around. If they are able to pull off a trade for him, could Kyrie Irving rekindle the Lakers’ championship hopes?
The New Big 3
If Kyrie Irving were to join the Lakers, he would form a new Big 3 in LA with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Irving has already played with LeBron James, when the two teamed up in Cleveland for three seasons. As a star who could create his own shot, Kyrie was the perfect complement to James offensively. If you add a defensive superstar who can stretch the floor like Anthony Davis into the mix, you form one of the best trios in NBA history.
Having a go-to scorer like Irving would alleviate some pressure off of James offensively. That would allow him to put more focus on using his physicality to get stops on defense. With Anthony Davis already protecting the rim, the Lakers should already be a good defensive team. If they can get stops and run in transition, they could be very successful.
When LeBron does have the ball in his hands, he will be an incredible threat. He would have several options with the ball; he could let Kyrie do some magic, he could drive and kick out to shooters, he could set up plays for Anthony Davis in the paint, or he could take his own shots. LeBron is one of the greatest passers of all time. With his passing ability, Kyrie Irving’s shot creating ability, and Anthony Davis’ rim protection on the other end, the new Lakers trio would have few weaknesses.
Trading away Russell Westbrook and receiving Kyrie Irving in return does not immediately solve all of the Lakers’ issues. Since Westbrook is a poor shooter and a subpar defender, the Lakers put a focus on finding role players who were skilled in those areas. However, most of the players they signed were either good shooters or good defenders, but rarely both. Additionally, many of the players they signed were aged veterans, which made it difficult to keep up with the energy levels of younger teams.
Even if the Lakers get Kyrie Irving, they still need to solve their depth issue. No team can win a championship with just three players, no matter how good those three players are. The Lakers need role players if they are going to win a championship. There is no other way around it.
In the larger scope of things, the Lakers need players who are going to be available to play throughout the season. Last year, they battled several injuries throughout their roster. There are two players who need to be available if the Lakers are going to win a championship. The first is Anthony Davis. He has missed too many games the past two seasons with injuries. It makes it nearly impossible for him to stay consistent with his skillset.
The second player would be Kyrie Irving, if the Lakers decide to take this route. Irving has missed games for various reasons throughout his career. The one thing preventing him from being a reliable star worthy of a max contract is his availability.
If the Los Angeles Lakers somehow traded for Kyrie Irving, their championship odds would definitely improve. Any team with LeBron James on it has a chance to win a championship. However, the Lakers will need to improve its depth and put more of an emphasis on defense if they are going to be a championship team in the next few seasons.