Isiah Thomas believes top 7 teams in West ‘fear’ LeBron James and Lakers

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

Ever since they traded Russell Westbrook for D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, the Los Angeles Lakers have been trending upward.

They have lifted themselves into eighth place in the Western Conference amidst some much-improved play, and NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas says that the teams above them should fear them, as well as LeBron James.

“I forget who said, ‘Nobody fears LeBron’ and all this other stuff,” said Thomas. “Them seven teams that are above — one through seven — there’s not one team that’s saying, ‘I want to play LeBron and the Lakers in the first round.’ So, there is some fear there.'”

The former Detroit Pistons star is one of plenty of people who are starting to believe in the Purple and Gold. That group includes ESPN analyst Jay Williams, who said on Thursday that the team can win a world championship.

Since Russell, Vanderbilt and Beasley debuted, the Lakers are 13-7, and they have been one of the best defensive teams in basketball during that span. It has already been a drastic turnaround from earlier this season and last season when they were pretty awful defensively and lacked enough viable players around James and Anthony Davis.

That 13-7 mark is even more impressive than it looks on paper because James missed most of those games due to injury.

But he is back now, and the Lakers are suddenly deep and well-balanced, something that nobody could say about them for the last couple of years. General manager Rob Pelinka, who had been widely criticized for some bad and questionable moves, deserves lots of credit for remaking the roster and replenishing it with talent despite a lack of trade assets.

Even if Los Angeles doesn’t win it all this season, it could have an even better chance of doing so next season. In order for that to happen, it will have to retain enough of its key free agents, which will include Russell, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder and Rui Hachimura.

But as long as it does so, its championship window could be open for as long as James continues to play at a high level.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.