This offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers brought LeBron James in on a four-year deal. That doesn’t automatically make them championship contenders, of course. But it does make them relevant again. And Klay Thompson, who is from Los Angeles, is looking forward to the challenge.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Thompson told ESPN’s Nick Friedell on Tuesday. “I don’t think you would have guessed it when he was with the Cavs when he started his rookie season, but it’s adding a ton of interest in the league, and the Lakers are about to get the usual media coverage that I was used to growing up.”
Last season, the Cavaliers got all the way to the NBA Finals — only to face off against Klay’s Warriors for the fourth straight year. And for the third time in three seasons, the Cavs would fall. But it’s because of LeBron that Cleveland got that far. That’s why Thompson is looking forward to James suiting up for LA.
“Well, the times we’ve seen him he’s always been at the top of the East during the Finals,” Thompson adds. “And those games are always intense. I expect him to greatly improve the Lakers and they’ve obviously got a bunch of guys who are proven now. So I just expect it to be intense. Any time you play against arguably the best player in the world, no matter what sport, you want to measure yourself against him so you play as hard as you can, and that’s why guys like Steph [Curry], KD [Kevin Durant], Kobe [Bryant], LeBron, James Harden, any [top] guys face their opponent’s best game every night, so it will be no different when we play the Lakers.”
This season, the Warriors will try to three-peat. They’ve won three of the last four NBA titles. And unless the Rockets finally get the job done, they’ll probably be the West’s representative for a fifth straight campaign. As for the Lakers, they haven’t made the postseason since 2012-13. They’ve won no greater than 35 games over the past five seasons. This time around, though, Thompson gets to share a division with LeBron. And that’s different.
“We’re in the same division, obviously both teams have a lot of talent and the atmosphere is going to be great. Even in the preseason, I think people are going to be really looking forward to it.”
Will James bring enough to the table in Year 1 to stoke a rivalry, though? We’ll see. In the meantime, that’s probably not what Year 1 is about. The Lakers are relevant again, that much is true. But they’re not contenders yet. They’ll have to work their way there first. And it all starts on Thursday, October 18 at Portland. The Warriors will host Kevin Durant’s old team — Oklahoma City — on opening night, October 16.