(CBS Local)– It’s been a season unlike any other for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Thursday, the Lakers restart their quest for an NBA title against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first regular season since the league was shut down due to coronavirus. James and his squad have the best record in the Western Conference, but they’ll be competing for a championship without key players like Avery Bradley, who opted out of the season and Rajon Rondo, who is out several weeks with an injury.
While the Lakers have looked dominant at times this season with James and Anthony Davis, CBS Sports NBA writer James Herbert still has major questions about the best team in the West.
“I think you have to be a little less confident. LeBron surrounded by shooters is an incredible formula and LeBron and AD are probably the best pick and roll tandem you could imagine,” said Herbert in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “But, they have a little less depth than they had coming in. I don’t know what to expect from Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith. We haven’t seen these guys play and the last time we saw J.R., he wasn’t particularly effective. I think you’re looking at a team that has hardly any room for error.”
While Herbert knows what to expect from James and Davis, he still wonders who the Lakers will use as their closing five in the seeding games coming up the next few weeks and in the playoffs.
“We don’t know what their closing lineup is necessarily going to be in a series against the Clippers or in the Finals,” said Herbert. “We have seen they prefer to play big all season long. If they are going to reach their ceiling offensively, they’re going to need to go with those small lineups.”
While James is constantly under the microscope when it comes to his legacy, Herbert says this will be a big summer for Davis in taking his game to the next level.
“The question I have with AD is can the Lakers get to a point where when he is the main guy and LeBron is on the bench, can the Lakers still be a dominant team or a really good team,” said Herbert. “Can he get to the comfort zone where everything was revolving around him. That’s a question that Los Angeles hasn’t collectively answered yet. This has been a problem going back to when Kyrie Irving was on the floor with LeBron in Cleveland. There has been a difficulty for LeBron-centric teams to figure out an identity without him on the floor.”
The Lakers battle the Clippers in the Orlando Bubble 6 p.m. PST.