The 2021-22 NBA season will attempt to be as close to a normal NBA season as possible after two years playing through a pandemic. The COVID situation in the United States has not improved as much as expected, but the league expects to get a full 82 games in while pushing for its players, coaches and staff to get vaccinated.
DKNation will be going through all 30 teams ahead of the season, looking at how the roster shapes up for the 2021-22 campaign. Here we take a look at the Los Angeles Lakers, who hope to bounce back from a first-round exit with a championship season.
Los Angeles Lakers 2021-22 Outlook
Key additions: Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony
The biggest addition is Westbrook, but rotation players like Monk will be instrumental in helping LA reach its goal. Howard and Rondo join as veterans with championship experience, while Anthony hopes to win a ring with his friend LeBron James. The Lakers completely retooled the roster around James and Anthony Davis, and did well for the most part to plug in the gaps.
Key departures: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Markieff Morris, Andre Drummond
Caruso’s two-way ability is something the Lakers are going to miss, but Drummond and Morris were never great fits and are better off elsewhere. Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope leaving hurts the team as players with championship experience, but the former’s development was plateauing and the latter was necessary salary filler. Ultimately, these were all role players who have been replaced.
With James, Davis and Westbrook, the expectation is to win a championship. The Lakers underwent a lot of changes in the offseason and could still pull off one more move to push them over the top, but this roster is good enough to win a ring. James will probably coast through most of the regular season before turning things on later. The Lakers feel they can beat anyone as long as they make the playoffs with a healthy team. The goal will be to remain intact when the games matter most.
Fantasy basketball player to watch: Russell Westbrook
Westbrook has been a stat machine, averaging triple-doubles in four of the last five seasons. That hasn’t necessarily translated to winning basketball, as Westbrook’s style often leads him to make poor decisions or chase milestones. That will change with the Lakers, who are hoping he can propel the team to the title in 2021-22. Westbrook’s efficiency will hopefully go up, but his triple-double days might be over. This will be an interesting situation for fantasy managers, who could bank on Westbrook to deliver big numbers. He’ll remain a good play in DFS formats, but might drop a few rounds in fantasy drafts.