Much has been said about the Los Angeles Lakers’ team chemistry last season. While those sort of intangibles tend to get a little overstated by fans and pundits, it’s clear that the team had a special bond that allowed it to start and end the season with a ton of success.
Anthony Davis put that feeling into words during his media availability last week on the heels of re-signing with the franchise, saying that it was the “closest” team he’s ever been on. Considering the wide range of teammates he’s had over the course of his NBA career (as well as a close relationship to Jrue Holiday with whom he spent several years in New Orleans), it’s a pretty strong statement to make from the big man.
The Lakers, top to bottom, seemed to be inherently close last year. Davis and LeBron James describe their relationship as being brothers. Locker room guys like Jared Dudley and Quinn Cook, who are both returning to the team this season, were routinely called the heart and souls of the team despite not getting a lot of minutes. Even someone like DeMarcus Cousins, who did not play a second of NBA basketball with the Lakers after an offseason injury and was eventually waived to make space for buyout players, remained close to the team throughout their championship journey.
The Lakers are returning the majority of players from this core but losing players like Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard still seems significant from the kinship standpoint, even if the team seems to have injected more talent, at least on paper. We saw the effects of poor chemistry on a talented team last year in the Clippers, who blew a 3-1 lead in the second round of the playoffs (people forget that). So it’s mandatory that the leadership of this team, including Davis, ensure that they get the same level of closeness this year that they had last.