The Los Angeles Lakers look like a franchise finally on the upswing after rebuilding through the NBA Draft for the past five seasons.
The Lakers, who have missed the playoffs the past five seasons, are quietly making their way up the Western Conference as they currently sit fifth. LeBron James has clearly made a positive impact on the team and the young core looks improved from the previous season.
Los Angeles has not made the playoffs since Kobe Bryant was donning the purple and gold and the five-time champion has taken notice of his former team’s success. Bryant’s words still carry plenty of weight among the Lakers organization and he has applauded their moves and efforts up to this point.
At the Lakers “All-Access” event, the 40-year-old also could not help but take a dig at the Golden State Warriors, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“They will figure it out,” Bryant said. “They have talented pieces and (Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka) has put them in position with incredible flexibility. They will figure it out. So, enjoy the journey because we’ll be champions before you know it, and then we’ll just be laughing at all the Warrior fans who all of the sudden came out of nowhere.”
The Warriors, of course, are the reigning champions and have won three out of the last four NBA Finals appearances. Behind a star-studded group led by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, they are the clear favorites to win the championship for the 2018-19 NBA season barring any major injuries.
However, the reports about Durant leaving Golden State has heated up in recent weeks with the Lakers being one of the teams he could leave for. Durant leaving the Warriors would once again open up the championship window for several teams, an outcome most are probably hoping for.
While Bryant’s optimism about a championship is encouraging, the Lakers still have plenty of work to do to get to the point of contention. If president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka can indeed land Durant or another superstar in free agency, then maybe it is realistic in the team’s near future.