Coming into free agency, everyone knew that the Lakers had to make some big moves if they wanted to win a championship. LeBron James is going to be 37 years old next season, and when it comes to Anthony Davis, his injury issues have made him a liability at times. When healthy, Davis is considered a top 10 player across the NBA-- although the Lakers can't exactly bank on that 100 percent of the time. Needless to say, fans and pundits wanted to see some big moves from the Lakers, and so far, they've been the most active team of the last week.
It all began when the Lakers shocked the world by trading for none other than Russell Westbrook. This move ended up costing the Lakers the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Immediately following the trade, there were some analysts who felt like the move was extremely shortsighted as the Lakers still need shooting. Having Westbrook, LeBron, and Davis all out on the floor together isn't exactly conducive to proper spacing, and fans got worried that the team's chemistry would be a complete mess. The Lakers needed to fill out the roster with solid shooters, and for the most part, that's what they've gone out and done.
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Since the Westbrook deal, the Lakers have signed Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Kendrick Nunn, Kent Bazemore, and Carmelo Anthony, who all shoot more than 38 percent from three-point range. From there, they consolidated their depth by adding veterans such as Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza. These are all players who have ties to the Lakers and have won championships with the franchise in the past. Given all of these recent additions, one would argue that these Lakers are a super team. The only issue with this assessment is that it doesn't take into account just how old some of these players are.
For instance, Howard is 35, Ariza is 36, Melo is 37, Ellington is 33, and Bazemore is 32. Monk and Nunn are the only young players to have been picked up by the Lakers, thus making the Lakers one of the oldest teams in the entire NBA. With every new signing this past week, the Lakers were dubbed the "retirement home." These moves have many wondering whether or not the roster is "too old" to succeed, especially when the season can be such a grueling, 82-game slog.
If you were to ask LeBron James, he would say the team is just fine the way it is. After seeing all of the backlash from haters on Twitter, LeBron spoke out, saying, "Keep talking about my squad, our [personal] ages, the way they play, we’re past our time in this league, etc etc etc!!" wrote the sports icon. "Do me one favor PLEASE!!!! And I mean PLEASE!!!! Keep that same narrative ENERGY when it’s begins! That’s all I ask. #ThankYou."
LeBron is expected to say something like this about his team, as he is the leader of the Lakers. In order to instil confidence in his guys, LeBron needs to act as though this team is going to win the title, no matter what. Objectively speaking, however, the question still remains as to whether or not this team is too old to compete with some of the other contenders like the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and even the Utah Jazz?
Well, the simple answer to that question is, no. If the average age of the team was somewhere in the upper 30s, then they would certainly have some issues. However, if you compare the Nets roster to the Lakers, the purple and gold are actually about a year younger on average. Not to mention, the Lakers have three bonafide superstars on the roster, which immediately makes them one of the most deadly teams in the league. Age is not the be-all, end-all when it comes to a team's success. What matters is the team's overall talent, and the chemistry they are able to produce, nightly.
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Not to mention, age goes a long way when it comes to experience. A great example of this was this year's NBA Finals between the Bucks and the Suns. Despite taking a 2-0 lead in the series, the Suns collapsed and allowed the Bucks to come back and win four straight games. The only true veteran Suns player getting significant minutes in the series was Chris Paul, while the rest of the team was extremely young and inexperienced. Meanwhile, the Bucks had a plethora of veterans on the roster including PJ Tucker, Jrue Holiday, and Brook Lopez. All of these players helped keep the Bucks level-headed throughout the series, and it paid dividends in the end. This relates to the Lakers as they will have a plethora of championship-winning players on the roster including Howard, Ariza, LeBron, and Davis. These guys have all been there before and when things get tough in the playoffs, they'll know how to handle the pressure, while teams like the Jazz might not be so well-equipped.
When you look at the rest of the Lakers roster, there are certainly some young talents to be found here, including Nunn, Monk, and Talen Horton-Tucker, who is expected to make a huge leap this season. These are all players who could do some damage for the Lakers this season, especially if some of the older players suffer injuries in the regular season. As far as age is concerned, the Lakers truly aren't as "down bad" as people say they are. The team is also expected to make a play for Buddy Hield, which could happen through a Dennis Schroder sign and trade. If this happens, the Lakers will be automatic favorites to win the Western Conference, and even without Hield, the Lakers should be just fine.
If LeBron has taught us anything over the years, it's that age really doesn't matter when you are a master at your craft, and this Lakers team is certainly full of masters.