NBA

Is Lakers Mega Trade A Desperate Last Gamble For Relevance In 2022?

Last week, on the eve of the NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers made their move. They contacted the Washington Wizards with a proposal to put to them to acquire the services of NBA superstar Russell Westbrook.

Heading to Los Angeles would be Westbrook, plus a 2024 Second Round pick in the NBA Draft, as well as a 2028 Second Round pick.

In return, the Wizards would receive Los Angeles 22nd Pick in the 2021 draft plus Montrezl Harris, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Westbrook will now line up for his third team in three seasons. After spending 11 seasons in Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook played the 2019-20 season with the Houston Rockets before being traded to Washington for the 2020-21 season.

Gamble For Lakers?

After being eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs this season, it is clear that the Lakers are taking a big gamble on Westbrook being the player to slot in alongside the Lakers’ other two superstars, Antony Davis and LeBron James, to make them genuine NBA Finals contenders once again.

Westbrook has generally been relatively hardy throughout his career, although he did miss games the past two seasons with the Wizards and Rockets. His physical fitness and lack of injuries is arguably one of the key reasons the Lakers went for the player, given the injuries suffered by the likes of LeBron James and Antony Davis this season.

There is also the very real fact that the Brooklyn Nets famous trio of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant have prompted the Lakers to team their own duo of superstars with another from the NBA, mirroring what has happened on the east coast out west.

The gamble the Lakers are taking here is not so much on Westbrook’s talents, which many feel are some of the most underrated in the NBA, but simply the fact that many argue that the era of the ‘super team’ is now over.

Are Super Teams A Legacy From A Bygone Era In The NBA?

A Super-Team is reckoned to be a team that has three (or more) future Hall of Fame calibre players in their team, all playing at their best level.

The first given the nickname were the 2009-10 Miami Heat, who had Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James on their roster. Next up were the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014 to 2017 who snapped up LeBron to play alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Golden State Warriors followed with four stars in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. These two Super Teams went head to head in four consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018, with the Warriors winning three of those titles.

Last season, the Brooklyn Nets snapping up James Harden also gave them the title of a Super Team as they already had Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the roster.

However, after winning the 2021 NBA Finals, Giannis Antetokounmpo called out Super Teams saying that it was the ‘easy way’ to win a Championship and that building a solid team was the ‘hard way to do it’.

While the Lakers and Nets seem to be keen to follow the Super Team trend other teams seem to be building teams and squads that marry superstars alongside complimentary players that develop the whole team, rather than relying on individuals’ brilliance to lead them to victory.

Will The Lakers And Nets Prevail?

The bookmakers certainly feel like the Nets and Lakers are the two teams to beat next season. The Nets are +220 to win the NBA Finals next season, with the Lakers second favourites at +400, both those prices with BetRivers Sportsbook.

That may well be a legacy from those dominant days of the Heat, Cavaliers and Warriors as last season, the Nets were beaten by the Bucks, while the Lakers lost in the First Round of the playoffs to the Suns.

So while the Super Team era may not quite be over in the NBA, with Westbrook’s trade to the Lakers clear evidence of this, whether that equates to the success some of these teams have enjoyed in the past remains to be seen.

And if it doesn’t, then the question to ask is whether the Super Team era is coming to an end?

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