Is This A New Era For Los Angeles Basketball?

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Stefan Erwin, Staff Writer

In the summer of 2019, two teams emerged as NBA title favorites, both playing in the same arena!  These two teams were the LA Lakers with their new superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the LA Clippers with their new duo of Kawhi Leonard, at the time the defending NBA Finals MVP, and Paul George.

There was a lot of debate at the time as to which team was better as both teams had great rosters led by a duo of stars.  The Lakers seemed to have the edge in size with Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and JaVale McGee as well as the playmaking advantage with LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.  The Clippers on the other hand looked to have the advantage on defense with great defenders Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverly, and Montrezl Harrell and the scoring advantage with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Louis Williams.

The much-anticipated battle of LA never really happened as the Clippers ended up blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.  The Lakers then went on to win the championship.  Shortly after the playoffs, both teams had some pretty significant roster changes both losing and adding key role players.

The Lakers added Dennis Schröder, Montrezl Harrell, and Marc Gasol while losing Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and JaVale McGee.  The Clippers added Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard, and Nicolas Batum while losing Montrezl Harrell (to the Lakers).  More recently, the Lakers have added Andre Drummond and Ben McLemore while the Clippers signed Demarcus Cousins and traded their 6th man of the year candidate Louis Williams to the Hawks for Rajon Rondo.

Since acquiring Rondo, who was instrumental in the Lakers championship run last year, the Clippers are 9-1 and look better than ever.  Rondo is a two-time NBA Champion, winning one with the Celtics in 2008 and one with the Lakers in 2020.  He is one of the best playmakers of all time which may be exactly what the Clippers need.

Right now, the Clippers are the 3rd seed in the West while the Lakers are the 5th seed, though they have been dealing with injuries.  Despite their seeding, I believe these are still the two best teams in the West when healthy and I think we may see a battle of LA in the playoffs this year.