LeBron James Says Lakers 'Absolutely' Can Repeat as Champions in 2020-21

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) celebrates with his teammates after the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

While not getting too ahead of himself, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James believes his team can go back-to-back as NBA champions.

"We can [repeat]. I mean, it's that simple," James said on Road Trippin' (via ESPN's Dave McMenamin). "We absolutely can. ... First of all, it all starts with health. You have to have some luck. You have to have health. If we can stay healthy."

Since 2000, the reigning NBA champion has successfully defended its crown on four occasions, and James was involved in one of those instances as the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals and the San Antonio Spurs one year later.

If anything, basketball lends itself to creating dynasties or a sustained run of success. The rosters and lineups are smaller compared to other sports, and one star player can significantly influence a game. James' run of nine Finals appearances in 10 years is a testament to the latter fact.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was as aggressive as he could reasonably be to address Los Angeles' needs this offseason.

Dennis Schroder replaced Rajon Rondo, and Wesley Matthews took Danny Green's place in the backcourt. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is sticking around after fitting into a nice secondary role. The new center rotation of Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol might be better than what the Lakers had with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee.

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Anthony Davis remains unsigned, but the New York Times' Marc Stein reported Monday he's "widely expected to soon finalize a max deal with the Lakers at the contract length of his choosing."

Los Angeles isn't significantly better because the team didn't need to improve to that extent. There isn't a juggernaut along the lines of the 2016-18 Golden State Warriors standing in the Lakers' way.

As James said, health will be critical. The Warriors probably would have won three titles in a row were it not for injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the 2019 Finals. Likewise, the Heat might have mounted a stiffer challenge if they had had a healthy Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

But the Lakers have to be considered the favorites to be the last team standing once again in 2021.