Monday Mailbag: Who is the Lakers’ biggest threat in the West?

Steph Curry and the Warriors could challenge the Lakers at the top of the West. (Harry How/Getty Images)

The NBA Summer League is nearing an end for the Los Angeles Lakers. While they had no draft selection this year, the Lakers still had some success with some undrafted free agents like Austin Reaves and Joel Ayayi. Mac McClung also signed a training camp deal and was popular on social media. However, Reaves was easily the most impressive of the bunch.

Since there won’t be any more basketball until close to the end of October, it is time to start thinking about next season. There’s a lot of questions surrounding the remaining spots on the roster and what our lineups will look like.

Let’s answer a few of them.

Let’s start with the most serious question of the bunch. I don’t think there is an answer here that is clear and obvious. Actually, it is quite the contrary. The Phoenix Suns should only be better next season after eliminating the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. The Golden State Warriors should also be very good next season; they still have Steph Curry and assuming Klay Thompson is able to stay healthy, they could be scary.

The West is loaded and we have not even mentioned the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets, both a year older and wiser. Nikola Jokic and Donovan Mitchell both lead their respective teams that have some deep rosters and that will play a factor come playoff time. Lastly, the little brother nobody likes, the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi Leonard inked his new deal this off-season so the Clippers’ gamble paid off. It is important to note that Kawhi will likely miss the entire season so they won’t be as dangerous.

So to answer your question, I have to go with the Warriors. Hear me out, they added two high first round picks and last year they selected James Wiseman second overall. The Warriors have the assets to make a big splash this off-season or before the trade deadline. Health permitting they should already be good, but could Ben Simmons or Bradley Beal make them the favorites in the West? We will have to wait and find out.

Since being traded by the Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas has struggled to get back to his All-Star form. Now he is out of the league and trying to make his way back. While he can still be a valuable scoring option off the bench, he does not seem to fit on this Lakers roster. Assuming the Lakers bring back Jared Dudley, it also makes sense for Wes Matthews to come back. His ability to guard wings and occasionally knock down the triple make him a much better option for the Lakers. Thomas lack of size can make him a liability on the defensive end and with no Alex Caruso on the roster, we simply can’t afford it.

With all due respect to Mike D’Antoni, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Lakers get desperate enough to play Russell Westbrook at the center position. The Lakers are looking to be physically imposing with their size. Their version of small ball should have Anthony Davis play the center, so Westbrook will never have that responsibility. Will he still grab a lot of rebounds? I am sure the Lakers are counting on it.

A second question from David Chia, and it’s an interesting one. With all due respect to McClung, nobody will ever replace the GOAT Alex Caruso.

The comparisons are lazy to be completely honest with you. While McClung has shown he can be quite the spark plug, he is limited at 6-foot-2 and can’t guard at Caruso’s elite level.

Farewell Mr. Caruso, we miss you everyday.

That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you everyone for your questions. Remember the quality of these is only as good as the questions we receive so keep them coming on Twitter or through our e-mail!

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