We’ve covered one set of projections that has the Lakers barely missing out on the playoffs. But others think that LA will do much better than this and even challenge for the NBA title.
Count Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is one person who thinks that the Lakers are set for a very good season. See what the head coach has to say below along with more on how high this team can climb.
Thibodeau Sees LeBron and Lakers as Instant Contenders
Thibodeau spoke briefly with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk on the Lakers. And he only had good things to say about his future Western Conference rivals.
“Any time a player like that comes to the West, particularly him, obviously if you got LeBron, you are an instant contender,” he said.
Few would know what it’s like matching up against James better than Thibodeau. He designed gameplans to stop LeBron many times as an assistant with the Boston Celtics and head coach of the Chicago Bulls. He’ll now see LeBron multiple times each year again while coaching the T-Wolves.
Lakers and Timberwolves Part of a Crowded West
The Minnesota Timberwolves earned the eighth seed in the Western Conference after winning 47 games. That said, LeBron improving the Lakers causes problems for Thibodeau and the rest of the conference.
The Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Los Angeles Clippers all figure to contend for a postseason spot. Add in the Lakers, T-Wolves, and even a healthy Memphis Grizzlies squad, and this makes 12 teams battling for a playoff berth.
Outside of the Warriors and Rockets, nobody seems to be guaranteed anything in the West. This will once again be a more competitive conference than the East.
Speaking of which, LeBron has had an easier ride the past several years while playing in the Eastern Conference. It’ll be interesting to see how he deals with all of the threats out West on a nightly basis.
It’s very possible that his streak of making eight straight NBA Finals appearances could be in jeopardy this season. But based on his immense talent along with the rest of the Lakers roster, don’t expect his bid for a ninth straight Finals to end before the postseason.