Heading into the 2018-19 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are considered a mystery team despite signing LeBron James to a four-year, $154 million deal.
With a young core and tough veterans surrounding James, the Lakers have been projected to finish as high as second or as low as not even making the playoffs in the highly competitive Western Conference.
As Kyle Kuzma believes ‘a lot of people are underestimating us,’ the Lakers have been at the UCLA Health Training Center throughout the entire offseason. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looking to improve on his career season from the three-point line, Lance Stephenson expects James to ‘sic me’ on opponents.
LeBron James, who has won three championships in eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances, is not ready to label the Lakers a championship contender yet, according to beIN Sports:
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) September 4, 2018
The 33-year-old understands what it truly takes to win a championship and this will be the first time in five seasons where the stakes are extremely high. While the young core is talented and competitive, the thought process is they will have to experience different situations first.
As the Golden State Warriors are attempting to win four championships in five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, they remain the favorites but there will be plenty of contenders. For the Lakers, they will have an opportunity to measure themselves and see where they truly stand among the elite.
Although the Lakers had opportunities to trade for Kawhi Leonard, the focus remains on building a sustainable championship contender. With a projected $38 million in cap space following Luol Deng‘s buyout, the Lakers can improve quickly.