Blame AAU basketball, blame the one-and-done generation, blame whatever you want, but what cannot be argued is that there is an international wave taking over the NBA. Increasingly it seems like the best and most influential players in the NBA are from countries and regions outside of the U.S.
5 Key Takeaways from the Christmas day Lakers, Warriors Matchup
The Christmas Day matchup between the Lakers and the Warriors proved to be the most eye-opening game of the NBA season so far. The Warriors were supposed to beat down on a young Lakers team led by a superstar Kevin Durant had labeled "toxic". Not only did the Lakers upset the Warriors by 26 points, they did so with LeBron James missing the majority of the second half after suffering a groin strain. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the game.
1. The Warriors need Demarcus Cousins.
The Warriors are now 23 and 12 on the season, which is their worst start since the last season under Mark Jackson in 2013. Some of their issues are obvious with Steph Curry missing multiple games, Klay Thompson shooting a career low from three and the lack of depth on the bench. Shooting slumps tend to end, bench players are not as important in the playoffs and Steph Curry looks healthy once again. The real issue plaguing the Warriors is Kevin Durant's pending free agency, the players know he might leave and some have responded by questioning his commitment to the team. The Warriors put a band aid over it but the wound is only getting worse. However, with the pending return of Demarcus Cousins the Warriors have a former MVP candidate ready to mask their deficiencies.
2. The Lakers have the deepest roster in the West.
LeBron James went down and the Lakers kept rolling due to their depth. The Lakers have the deepest roster in the Western Conference and arguably the entire NBA. The Warriors still own the best roster but LA goes two deep in every position with backups capable of starting for most teams. This depth will be key in the potential trade for Anthony Davis.
3. The Lakers don't need a trade for Anthony Davis.
I know Laker fans want to see the team sign another superstar but is it worth breaking up the roster? The Lakers have drafted well over the last 5 years and have built a young core worth keeping. Trading for Anthony Davis almost certainly means tearing the team apart but with some patience the Lakers might be able to build on another season and land AD as a free agent.
4. Rajon Rondo may be the most underrated point guard of all time.
Last night we got a glimpse of vintage Rondo. A flashback of a point guard that once recorded a stat line of 18 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists. However, Rondo has never quite gotten the credit he deserves mostly due to a career filled with on court controversies. It'll be interesting to see if Rondo ever gets into the hall of fame.
5. LeBron is still Number One.
At this point last season, the Lakers were 11-21 while the Cavs were 24-10. The Cavs lost LeBron and the Lakers added LeBron, this time around the Lakers are 20-14 while the Cavs are 8-27 with the worst record in the NBA. This brings back shades of the 2010-11 NBA season where after losing LeBron to free agency the Cavs went from 61-21, the best record in the NBA to 19-63, the second worst record in the league. Toxic or not, no player in history has affected a team's success as much as LeBron has.
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