The Five Most Interesting Teams in the NBA This Week

Los Angeles Lakers

Duh. It’s pretty hard to argue with the pull of a Lakers team that now stars LeBron James, the kind of intrigue magnet who warps entire media coverage models.

Last season’s Lakers—chock full of Kuzmania, the fits-and-starts progress of Brandon Ingram, the emergence of Josh Hart, and the sturm und drang surrounding Lonzo Ball—were already a pretty fun and interesting bunch. Add to that perhaps the greatest player of all time chopping it up with his young dudes about Young Dolph and you get an awfully captivating mystery box of a team. (And we haven’t even talked about JaVale, Lance, Rondo, and SuperCoolBeas yet.)

Some see a 55-win juggernaut in the making; others see a .500-ish team that will struggle to crack the top eight. The answer will depend on several factors: how effectively L.A. can embody team president Magic Johnson’s “We want to run” ethos (the Lakers’ 23.8 fast-break points per game led all NBA teams during preseason play); how well all the complementary ball handlers and playmakers that Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka brought in to flank James can shoot the ball off his service (they ranked 14th in effective field goal percentage and 11th in true shooting percentage); and how formidable a defense Luke Walton can marshal from a collection of sometimes-scattered youth, vets whose best defensive days might be behind them, and one viable shot-blocker in JaVale McGee. The Lakers might have to win a lot of shoot-outs this season … which, if you’re looking for something fun to watch in the wee hours of an East Coast morning, doesn’t sound half-bad. But if things aren’t clicking early with the pace-and-non-LeBron-playmaking approach, will James really stay the course with Magic’s plan, or will the King feel compelled to more forcefully take the reins?