The Los Angeles Lakers head into the 2021-22 season with one of the most experienced teams, bosting a combined 57 All-Star selections and multiple future Hall of Famers.
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With the oldest roster in the NBA, social media has brought the jokes through the off-season and even LeBron James can't help but see the funny side.
"The narrative about our age, I kind of laugh at it," LeBron said at Media Day. "… Some of the jokes and some of the memes have been extremely funny."
There's no denying the experience this group brings to the table, but with Anthony Davis (28) - who has struggled with injuries - the young pup among the veteran group including James (37), Russell Westbrook (32), Carmelo Anthony (37), Dwight Howard (35), Rajon Rondo (35), DeAndre Jordan (33) and Trevor Ariza (36), staying healthy through the 82-game regular season will be the first step in keeping things on track in LA.
Hangin' with the @Lakers on #NBAMediaDay! pic.twitter.com/3if74xB8JT- NBA (@NBA) September 28, 2021
"The ultimate goal is to obviously win a championship. And it starts with, obviously, health as the No. 1 thing. We're excited to know that we've given ourselves another opportunity to be available to each other, and that's what it came down to," James said.
The 36-year-old missed 27 games last season, with an ankle injury keeping him on the sidelines in the leadup to the playoffs, but says he's bck to full health as he prepares on the quest to win his fifth championship.
"I'm back to 100%, as far as my ankle. I feel great heading into camp," he added. "I'm super excited to get back on the floor and know the work that I've put in with my body and my game. And I'll translate it to the court."
Davis, who had his own injury struggles last season, playing in just 36 regular season games, echoed James' sentiments regarding his own health.
"I feel good," Davis said. "I had a great offseason of training. Got back to my normal offseason routine with the strength trainer. So, I feel 100 percent healthy and ready to go."
Despite the addition of Howard and Jordan and his previous preference to play power forward, Davis expects more impact on his body this season, saying he'll be spending more time at the five.
"I expect to play center. I'm not sure what's going to happen. Me and Frank [Vogel] talked about it a couple times, and that's the plan," Davis said. "Right now, nothing is set in stone, but we want to see what that looks like. I'm comfortable with that. Obviously, there will be times where Dwight [Howard] or [DeAndre Jordan] might get the start at center depending on games, but I think the plan is to go with me playing center."
The potential for Davis at center working alongside newly-acquired point guard Russell Westbrook does solve some of their spacing issues and is something we'll likely see more of in the playoffs.
Bringing together two ball-dominant players like Westbrook and James will take some adjusting to from both players, but with the pair getting in work together on court during the summer, off-season workouts, Westbrook exuded confidence in the star duo co-existing, saying the partnership is "going to work."
"LeBron out of anybody else, he knows what it takes to win a championship," Westbrook said per ESPN. "My understanding of the commitment, understanding the sacrifices that we are both going to have to make, including myself and [Anthony Davis] as well for the betterment on the team, and finding ways to be able to win a championship. And that's the ultimate goal. So anything along the way we, we cannot get distracted, cannot get the deterred from our ultimate goal."
"When you get a chance to play against one of the greatest players of all time and consistently, it helps my game," Westbrook added.
"It helps my preparation, makes me focus more on the things I need to focus on to get to a point where I can sit down and say, 'I've accomplished everything I can accomplish in this league and now I'm lucky enough to be able to play alongside him.' So I'm looking forward to that, looking forward to the things we can accomplish here together this season."
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The Westbrook x LeBron fastbreak is sure to light up SportsCenter on a nightly basis and Westbrook running point at STAPLES Center is sure to give the Lakers a much-needed increase in tempo after they finished 21st in pace last season.
"Right away, he ups our pace right away," James said. "He's always in the top five as far as pace. Whatever team is what he with, so being able to get out and being able to get out on the break and be able to try to get some early buckets before the defence is set. That creates that.
"But also he's just a flat-out playmaker. I think what a lot of people don't talk about in his game is how unbelievable of a passer he is. Everyone sees the rebounds, everyone sees the scoring and things of that nature, but his passing, his ability to make guys around him better, that does not get talked about a lot. We all look forward to that, being his teammate."
While Westbrook headlines the Lakers' off-season additions, they also welcome back some familiar faces in Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, who helped them win the 2020 NBA championship. Among their veteran signings, one of the subplots of the season is finally seeing childhood friends LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony finally share the floor together for the first time in their storied NBA careers.
"We always used to talk about it in a joking way: 'What if we get together? It would be crazy.' But for where we are at now with both of our careers, both of our paths, I think it was meant for it to happen at this point," Anthony said per The Undefeated's Marc Spears. "I have been thinking about winning a title for 20 years. The same thought process. Now, with the team that we have and the situation that we have, we really can look forward to competing at that level. That is exciting for me."
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its clubs.