The 2023–24 NBA season got off to an official start as LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were defeated by Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets by a score of 119-107. Fans had high expectations for this game because it was a replay of the Western Conference Finals (WCF), which had previously been played between the two clubs. When these two teams met for the final time, it was in the Western Conference Finals, and the Nuggets swept the Lakers. Unfortunately, Los Angeles was unable to score first, which contributed to their loss to the team that currently holds the title of champion.
Even though many people had already predicted that the Nuggets would win, there was still a glimmer of optimism that the new and purportedly improved Lakers squad could have been able to pull off an upset. Having said all of that, let’s take a look at three things that we’ve learned from Los Angeles’s loss to Denver on the first night of the season:
#1) Nikola Jokic is the best player in the NBA today
For Nikola Jokic, the previous season was a significant step in his path. Many people believe that he was cheated out of the chance to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award three years in a row. Despite the obstacle, Jokic guided the Denver Nuggets to their first NBA championship in franchise history, which they won because to his leadership.
During the 2023–2024 season, it appeared as though the “Joker” would not give up on his plan to defend his championship title. Jokic had an outstanding game, as seen by his performance on ring night, in which he recorded a triple-double. The Serbian powerhouse is already making waves throughout the league despite the fact that the season has not even started yet. Jokic had a huge game for the Nuggets, scoring 29 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out 11 assists on their special night to prevent a humiliating loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
When everything is taken into consideration, it is undeniable that Nikola Jokic has firmly established himself as the best player in the league at the present time. Even if some people might disagree, the evidence is indisputable, and there is no way to stop him at this point.
#2) The Lakers still rely too much on LeBron James
LeBron James is still leading the Los Angeles Lakers in his 21st year of play. LeBron will turn 39 later this year, so you should probably expect to see him play fewer minutes than normal. Regretfully, considering how difficult it has been for the Lakers to stay competitive while “King James” has been on the bench, that is a gamble they are now unable to afford to take.
Though it’s encouraging to know that LeBron James will continue to play at his peak level, one can’t help but feel sorry for him given that, at this stage of his career, he ought to already be stepping back from the spotlight. Without James constantly coming to their aid, Anthony Davis and the Lakers team will need to improve if they want to win.
#3) The Lakers lack chemistry
Given how the LA Lakers have made a lot of adjustments to their roster over the summer, it was already expected that the team would run into some chemistry issues at the beginning of the season. The Purple and Gold have more work to be done in practice. As stated above, the team still relies heavily on LeBron James to take over games.
In all fairness to the Lakers though, they showed a lot of promise on opening night against the defending champions. Despite their lack of chemistry and ball movement, they managed to keep the game within reach and made it seem like they could win the game at one point. With that kind of potential, it’s likely for the LA side to become a bigger threat later in the season once they start clicking.