NBA 21/22 season: 3 reasons why LeBron James will/won't win title

·6 min read
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers during a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers during a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors. (PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Even into his 19th NBA season, basketball superstar LeBron James continues to be among the elite players of the league, guiding his Los Angeles Lakers side as he bids to win the fifth title of his career.

The 36-year-old will have plenty of help, as the Lakers have dramatically revamped their roster, bringing in proven former All-Stars to try for an immediate title. 

Can this roster experiment succeed? Here are three reasons why it can bring James his coveted NBA title, and three reasons why it cannot:

WHY LEBRON WILL WIN THE TITLE THIS SEASON

1. Star-studded Lakers squad

A squad containing James and Anthony Davis should be able to safely negotiate the regular season and be a force in the playoffs. Yet, the Lakers decided to up the ante in the off-season, completely revamping their roster with seasoned talents that, on paper, look capable of powering the team to contend for the NBA title.

Start with former regular-season MVP Russell Westbrook, who engineered his trade from Washington Wizards to the Lakers for one more title shot. This is a guy who carries a triple-double threat and plays with a single-mindedness to win every game. Imagine him slashing and leading fast breaks alongside James.

Then there is Carmelo Anthony, a wondrous scorer during his prime. Dwight Howard, returning for his third Lakers stint to provide a strong presence in the low post. Rajon Rondo, a dependable playmaker who shines during playoffs. And DeAndre Jordan, who twice led the league in rebounding.

It is a dizzying array of talent and experience, equipping James and the Lakers with enough offensive power and defensive know-how to win most matches.

2. Bouncing back from disappointing season

Last season was a massive disappointment for the Lakers following their title triumph in 2019/20. Both James and Davis suffered injuries that ruled them out for large chunks of the season, and while they barely made the playoffs via the new play-in tournament, they succumbed in the opening round to the Phoenix Suns.

Naturally, the two elite players would want to prove to the entire league that last season was an aberration due to their untimely injuries. Fans will be hoping that the partnership would be back in full force, following an off-season where both players were allowed to rest and heal from their niggling injuries.

3. James' desire to chase history

James could have retired now, and he would have done everything that a professional basketballer dreams to achieve - multiple team titles, personal accolades and universal acclaim. 

That he has yet to hang up his sneakers means only one thing: he is gunning for history. He is 3,020 points behind Lakers great Kareem Abdul Jabbar's all-time scoring record of 38,387 points - a mark which he could theoretically reach in two or three more seasons. 

More likely though, James is aiming for six NBA titles to match Michael Jordan's haul - or at least overtake Kobe Bryant's five title triumphs. That would give him another feather in the cap in the conversation of the NBA's greatest players, and that drives him on to continue to be in great shape to prepare for another title push.

(From left) Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony of the Los Angeles Lakers during a preseason basketball game against the Golden State Warriors.
(From left) Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony of the Los Angeles Lakers during a preseason basketball game against the Golden State Warriors. (PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

WHY LEBRON WON'T WIN THE TITLE THIS SEASON

1. Squad of "grandpas"

One look at the Lakers roster, and their biggest problem becomes abundantly clear: this is a very old squad by NBA's standard. James is 36, while Davis is one of the youngest at 28; key players Westbrook (32), Anthony (37), Howard (35), Rondo (35) and Jordan (33) are no longer spring chickens.

Naysayers are already labelling this Lakers team as title contenders - back in 2015. Indeed, there are plenty of doubts as to whether the Lakers can go through the full 82-game regular season without suffering an injury crisis, with their players already having so much wear-and-tear from their previous seasons. 

Coach Frank Vogel would have to manage each player's playing time so that these veterans can be physically fresh for the playoffs. Will it work? Or would James have to deal with injury crisis during the regular season again? Questions abound.

2. Tougher Western Conference

Even if the Lakers should somehow emerge unscathed and healthy for the playoffs, they would have to negotiate a slew of top-class teams in the Western Conference.

The Suns have retained the core of the team that swept into the NBA Finals last season; the Utah Jazz will continue to be a highly-accomplished defensive team; the Golden State Warriors could be revived with the return of Klay Thompson from serious injury; and even teams like the Dallas Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers could cause problems for any side in the West during the playoffs.

Could James continue to lift the Lakers past these formidable opponents? With each passing year, the challenge gets harder for this once-in-a-lifetime talent.

3. Too many adjustments to make

The Lakers could be finding out really quickly that winning a title is not as simple as jamming a bunch of top talents into their squad. 

Teams take time to figure out each player's habits on the court, adapt to whatever complicated tactics the coach maps out, and get comfortable enough with one another to be united in their title push.

There is no guarantee that players like Westbrook, Rondo and Howard - who are notorious for being prickly characters with huge egos - can blend well enough with James and Davis to become a formidable unit. Things could easily go the other way, with strong personalities clashing in the dressing room. 

James, who is at least well-known for uniting disparate talents for the winning cause in his previous clubs Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, would have to shown enough leadership to rein in these new players. Would he have enough left in the tank? For now, the jury is out on whether the Lakers can function as a top unit. 

And time is ticking for James towards the end of his illustrious career. He cannot afford to waste another season.

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