NBA Monthly Roundup: Knicks and Stephen Curry have risen; Lakers are back

Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James and Anthony Davis (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

NBA Playoff Prediction: A healthy Lakers team is still better than anyone else, at least in the West

The playoffs are often about who you can trust. And this year is somewhat unique in that I’m not sure we can really trust anyone. In the Western Conference, you have unproven teams at the top, Denver missing Jamal Murray, and the Clippers are, well, the Clippers.

The Lakers certainly have issues of their own, though. Injuries obviously being the main one, but they also have very real questions to answer in the frontcourt. Is Andre Drummond capable of playing championship-level defense? He hasn’t so far in his short time in Los Angeles. Is Montrezl Harrell more than just a matchup-dependent energy guy in the playoffs? He was nearly unplayable for the Clippers last year against Denver.

Can Marc Gasol have any impact at all at this stage in his career? They might need him to if the answer to the last two questions is “no.”

But I don’t think it’s crazy to say that the answer to those questions doesn’t really matter if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are 100 percent by the time the playoffs start. Last year, the Lakers used a center combo that they picked up out of the free agency dumpster with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. The trio of centers they have now is certainly an upgrade from that.

And even if they aren’t, the Lakers have the NBA’s ultimate trump card with the option to use Anthony Davis at center. It’s a role he’s reluctant to play, but one that makes them elite on both ends of the floor.

As I said, the playoffs are about trust, and if I’m betting my life on any of these teams it’s going to be on the defending champions who have a better roster this year than the one that won it all a year ago. The Jazz, Suns, and Clippers have been great this year, but picking them in a 7-game series over a healthy Lakers team feels like a big reach.