The NBA season is less than 24 hours away, and, to no surprise, all eyes are on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Big Lead staff predictions what will happen …
What will be considered a success for the Lakers this season?
Bobby Burack: Making it to the second round of the playoffs.
Henry McKenna: A Conference semis appearance.
Vik Chokshi: Second round of the playoffs, and growth from their young core.
Jason McIntyre: If LeBron stays healthy the entire season. By simply getting LeBron, the season is a success. This is a franchise that swung and missed with LaMarcus Aldridge and Melo. Baby steps.
Ryan Phillips: Growth from all the young players and the second-round of the postseason.
Ryan Glasspiegel: Winning a playoff series.
Should the Lakers look to make a major trade if they are a top three seed near the trade deadline?
Bobby Burack: If they can land a superstar, yes. They cannot afford to be Paul George-d twice in less than 12 months.
McKenna: Make Kawhi-to-L.A. happen.
Vik Chokshi: For a superstar, yes. Otherwise, just wait until the off-season, sign a max player to pair with LeBron, and develop their young core.
McIntyre: No. Young, cheap core. Have salary cap room. No trade is necessary. Why make a deal and then lose to the Warriors?
Phillips: Absolutely not. They need to make the long-term play with the Warriors being so dominant. The young core is cheap and talented. Keep it together and make additions in the offseason.
Glasspiegel: Nah, why give up assets when they can land free agents in a year?
How many games will the Lakers win this season, and where will they finish in the West?
Bobby Burack: 46, 6th.
Vik Chokshi: 47, 5th
McIntyre: 52, 2nd.
Phillips: 48, 5th
Glasspiegel: 50, 4th
This season, Lonzo Ball will ____
Bobby Burack: Be decent. I have never thought of him as a player that is going to be a star on the court. A realistic hope is LeBron can accept playing off the ball later in season allowing Lonzo to be an effective quintessential point guard heading into the playoffs.
McKenna: Get traded.
Vik Chokshi: Be very good. Will be able to facilitate for this group of guys perfectly. Look for more of the UCLA ‘Zo.
McIntyre: Be the 6th most interesting guy on the Lakers. After LeBron, Ingram, Kuzma, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson.
Phillips: Take a big step forward. Playing with LeBron James will make him better, as will learning from Rajon Rondo. He’s already in much better shape and his jumper looks improved.
Glasspiegel: Pass well, still have shooting woes.
What type of season will Brandon Ingram have?
Bobby Burack: Brandon Ingram will be an All-Star and a top 20 player in the NBA.
McKenna: Ingram will show the country — the world? — he’s an elite scorer. He’ll put up 21-5-3.
Vik Chokshi: A terrific one. Should be able to average 19 a game, and be a borderline All-Star.
McIntyre: 19-6-4, and he’ll be an All-Star.
Phillips: He’ll be Robin to LeBron’s Batman. Won’t be an All-Star but will be well on his way.
Glasspiegel: Average 18 points a game, start dating a Kardashian or Jenner.
What will LeBron James stat line be this season?
Bobby Burack: 28, 8, 8.
Vik Chokshi: 25-7-7
Where will LeBron finish in the MVP race?
Bobby Burack: Third behind Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis.
McKenna: Second, even though he’ll deserve to win it.
Vik Chokshi: Third
Glasspiegel: Third behind Giannis and Durant.
How much pressure is on LeBron this year?
Bobby Burack: A ton. He is LeBron and if this thing ends as a disappointment, LeBron will be to blame.
McKenna: Everyone kind of expects this experiment to blow up, right? So if it does fail, LeBron doesn’t necessarily have to take the fall for a failure. But if LeBron helps this team to the Conference Semis, we’ll all be marveling at his ability to carry a group of misfit toys.
Vik Chokshi: Not much at all. Simply signing him has the Lakers in a position to be good now and in the future. He puts Los Angeles in the driver’s seat to sign a star after the season. That is when the pressure will start.
McIntyre: None. How do you quantify pressure? Pressure from the media? Pressure on social media? Pressure from the organization is zero. This is year one. Next summer, when they add a star, there will be pressure.
Phillips: None. We’ll see the most relaxed version of LeBron we’ve seen in years. No one expects the Lakers to compete for a title, so James can sit back and help the kids develop.
Glasspiegel: A lot because he has a new film or TV project coming out every day and those can and will be held against him.
The 2018-19 Lakers ____
Bobby Burack: Will not make it out of the first round as currently constructed.
McKenna: Will look a lot like the 2017-18 Cavaliers during the regular season, but will fall flat in the far more competitive Western Conference playoffs.
Vik Chokshi: Will be entertaining to watch, but not a threat to the Golden State Warriors.
McIntyre: If healthy, the only team that beats them in the playoffs is the Warriors. If Golden State has a major injury, the Lakers should make the Finals. I don’t think they’d beat the Celtics in the Finals.
Phillips: Will be a must-watch on League Pass and a playoff team. The young guys are fun, LeBron is still the best player on the planet and the veteran role players will at least be interesting.
Glasspiegel: Be very interesting but lose in the first round of the playoffs.