There are many reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers are favored by the Las Vegas oddsmakers to win the 2019-20 NBA championship but they all start with superstar LeBron James, who’s still the greatest player on the planet.
LeBron may not be the greatest athlete in the game or able to leap over tall buildings like when he was young but his unrivaled physical conditioning, championship experience, and elite basketball smarts remain unmatched. Nobody playing today — not Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, or Steph Curry — has the winning gravity and unparalleled two-way ability to dominate playoff games and series like LeBron James.
Once the NBA resumes in a month, LeBron will remind the doubters and naysayers, who’ve conveniently forgotten who he is and what he’s done, that he’s still the King and the road to the championship goes through him. He gave Giannis and Kawhi a preview of what to expect in the playoffs as he dominated play at both ends in the Lakers’ weekend sweep of the Clippers and the Bucks before coronavirus forced the league down to shut down.
Consider the unprecedented challenge NBA teams and players are going to confront in these playoffs, with games played in a bubble in the middle of a pandemic with no fans or home court advantage after a three-month delay. These are conditions where championship confidence, experience, and savvy prevail, when those who’ve been there before, know how to focus on the moment, handle the pressure, and live up to to the expectations win.
Before play was suspended, LeBron and the Lakers were playing their best basketball of the season, had catapulted over the Bucks and Clippers to top the NBA power rankings, and had generated championship momentum. There’s reason to believe, given time to become fully rested and healthy plus a daunting set of draconian conditions they’re best suited to handle, LeBron and the Lakers should be even bigger favorites to win the title.
This year’s playoffs are not a crazy, anything-can-happen, March Madness tournament where wild card outcomes and surprise upsets are going to dominate the day and untested underdogs have unexpected advantages. These playoffs are going to be a gruelling, taxing second season played under extraordinary conditions that favor poised, focused, motivated, experienced veteran teams and players with the will and skill to prevail.
The road to the 2020 NBA Championship is going to be an arduous trek filled with obstacles and hurdles never before encountered, ending with the ultimate challenge of going through LeBron James and the Lakers.