LeBron James Leading Lakers to Same Level as Kobe Bryant, Danny Green Says

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 06:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket with Danny Green #14 during a 113-103 Laker win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on March 06, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

If or when the NBA season resumes, the Los Angeles Lakers will be among the favorites to win an NBA title this year, led by the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 

And Danny Green believes James has brought the Lakers back to the level of play they experienced during Kobe Bryant's prime years with the team, he said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd Tuesday (1:50 mark):

Herd w/Colin Cowherd @TheHerd

"I think LeBron is just smarter. He knows how to win... And now he's bringing this organization back to the level it was when Kobe was around." @DGreen_14 on the evolution of LeBron James. @GreenRoomInside https://t.co/k6OYwCacES

James and the Lakers might need to win a title together before it can be safely said they've reached the level Bryant had them at in the past. After all, Bryant won five titles in his career. Three of them came with Shaquille O'Neal as his running mate, the other two with Pau Gasol as his sidekick. 

This Lakers team is really good, no doubt. And Bryant didn't win a title every year, he simply had the Lakers in the playoffs for most of them. At 49-14, this Lakers team is heading back to the postseason and has the second-best record in the NBA, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks (53-12).

But when talking championship aspirations, there are some question marks worth examining.

For one, how have they fared against the league's top teams? Well, not great. Against the other top-five teams in the league by record—Milwaukee, the Toronto Raptors (46-18), the Los Angeles Clippers (44-20) and the Boston Celtics (43-21)—they've gone 3-5. 

Contrast that to the Bucks, who have gone 6-2 in those matchups. Or the rival Clippers, who are 5-4 against the top five teams. 

Granted, the Lakers are going to be the top seed in the Western Conference, so they wouldn't be facing the Clippers until the conference finals or the Bucks, Raptors or Celtics until the NBA Finals. It's hard to imagine this Lakers team failing to go deep into the playoffs. 

But to live up to comparisons of Bryant-led teams of the past, James and the Lakers will need to win a title at some point. James has done so before, winning two with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers. His NBA legacy is secure. But his legacy as a Laker is yet to be written.

This season, disjointed as it has been because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is an important chapter. 


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