It’s no small secret that NBA players and fans across the globe are expecting a 2021 Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers are defending NBA champions, and the Brooklyn Nets have three of the greatest players in the league all on the same team. But who would win in a Finals matchup? Assuming everyone is healthy, Lakers fans would point to the fact they’re one of the best teams in the Western Conference, and have Lebron James and Anthony Davis on their team. Nets fans would point to the fact they have Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, three of the best at putting the ball in the hoop and dazzling opponents. But who would actually win? Today, I’m going to break down who would have the advantage, at every position.
Disclaimer: Different starting fives could be used, but these are the ones that are used when there are no injuries… for now.
Second Disclaimer: I am listing Lebron James as a Small Forward, not a Point Guard, and Kevin Durant as a Power Forward.
Third Disclaimer: Kyrie Irving and James Harden recently said they were swapping positions, and that Harden would play point guard while Irving played shooting guard. This is taken into account, position wise.
Fourth Disclaimer: If you are reading this in email form, then the color contrast may appear as unreadable. To fix this, click at the link on the top of the email which will take you to the actual webpage, where the problem should be fixed.
Lakers: Dennis Schroder
Nets: James Harden
It’s clear that the Nets have an advantage over the Lakers at the point guard position. James Harden is a former MVP and NBA All-Star, can shoot lights out, and has some of the best handles in the league. Dennis Schroder, on the other hand, is a good young point guard, and was one of the best 6th men in the entire NBA. Now he’s a starter on a championship team, but it’s pretty obvious that the Nets have the better point guard.
Lakers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Nets: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is an All-Star and NBA champion, who has arguably the best handles in the entire NBA. He’s in his prime, and assuming he stays out of trouble off the court and doesn’t get injured, he should be fine. Irving has already played with some of the biggest stars in this league, and can handle himself well (pun intended). As for Caldwell-Pope … he’s not a bad player, but he’s not on the level of Irving, averaging 8.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.
Lakers: Lebron James
Nets: Bruce Brown
It’s no doubt the Lakers have the advantage here. Brown is averaging 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and one assist per game while not doing too much in terms of productivity for the Nets. On the other hand, Lebron James is still Lebron James, and one of the best, if not the best, players of this generation.
Lakers: Anthony Davis
Nets: Kevin Durant
This is the one position where there is talent on both sides. KD is one of the best scorers in the league, and AD is a monster in the paint, blocking shots and slamming home dunks. In terms of offense, I think KD has the upper hand, as he is a four-time scoring champion, and averaging 29 points per game this season. AD is better in the paint, and is relatively versatile for a power forward. This can be attributed to the fact that he played point guard until he was in high school, when he went through a major growth spurt. Even though they are both great talents, I believe KD has the upper hand here. He can still play great defense, shoot over everyone, and has recovered much better than expected from a devastating injury.
Lakers: Marc Gasol
Nets: Deandre Jordan
The Nets have the better starting center, whether you like it or not. Jordan is averaging better numbers in the paint, is younger than the aging Gasol, and can play at a high level. If I were the Lakers, I would definitely try to trade for Mo Bamba and make my roster stronger. If we just went off starting five, it is likely the Nets would win. However, there is more to the game than the first ten men on the court.
Lakers: 6th Men of the Year winners and candidates, as well as a young core
Nets: Landry Shamet, Jeff Green
The Lakers have armloads more depth than the Nets. On their bench, they have Montrezl Harrell, last year’s 6th Man of the Year (given to the player who preforms the best off the bench), Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Alex Caruso, and Markieff Morris. The Nets, on the other hand, have Landry Shamet, Jeff Green… and that’s about it. They also have Spencer Dinwiddie when he’s healthy, but the Lakers have the better bench by far.
Lakers: Frank Vogel
Nets: Steve Nash
As much as I hate to say it, the Lakers have better coaching as well. This is Steve Nash’s first year as a head coach, or as any sort of coach at all. Frank Vogel, on the other hand, has coached the Magic and Pacers, and was twice a coach at All-Star Weekend.
Lakers: Championship Bond
Experience: This is the Nets’ first year with a big three or even a big two together. Last year, Durant was hurt and missed the whole season, and this year, the Nets have James Harden. The team really revolves around the three of them, because as I said, the Nets don’t have a lot of bench depth. On the other side of the coin, you have Anthony Davis and Lebron James playing together. James was Davis’ childhood idol, and the rest of the roster knows their roles, not demanding more.
Lakers: A Championship
The Lakers have much more experience than the Nets, as they won the 2020 NBA Championship. The Nets, on the other hand, have only played a handful of games together as a new roster. It’s clear the Lakers have much more experience, and while the Nets have all the tangibles to win, the Lakers have the intangibles.
Who’s winning tonight?
Tonight’s game is going to be a good one. Meeting for the first time on ABC, the Lakers are without superstar Anthony Davis and the Nets are without superstar Kevin Durant. In terms of the stars, it’ll be Kyrie Irving and James Harden vs Lebron James. Tonight’s game is anyone’s game, though I think the Nets are going to win. Even if Irving and Harden are ball-dominant, without Davis, the Lakers have practically the same lineup they did in the 2018-2019 season. That season was also known as the “Lebron James wait for help and struggle with all these young pieces that don’t know how to play together,” season. Add in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Tyson Chandler and Javale McGee, and take out Montrezl Harrell, Markieff Morris, Dennis Schroder, and Quinn Cook, and it’s about the same as it was a couple of years ago. This won’t be a completely accurate assessment of both teams and a potential Finals matchup because of injuries, but it’ll still be a pretty good game to watch.
Let me know what you agree with or disagree with in the comments below, don’t forget to like, and as always, have an awesome day!
*Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. No copyright infringement intended. ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*