The Los Angeles Lakers won a NBA championship a few months ago, then restocked their shelves with premium products, shoring up the weak spots that weren't weak enough to prevent them from reaching the sport's ultimate plateau in the first place. That's incredibly bad news for other franchises and perhaps intentionally trenchant commentary on this country, where the rich tend to get richer and the little guy's desire to keep up with the Joneses gets more arduous with each passing year.
Or perhaps it's not that deep. Perhaps LeBron James simply surveyed the landscape and made some helpful suggestions to the front office. Like bringing in Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell to pick up the slack and provide not one, but two explosive scoring options to pick up the slack when — or if — James and Anthony Davis are having an off night.
After seeing that A-list duo carry a rather lackluster supporting cast to the promised land in the bubble, it stands to reason that this season's path to the crown runs through Staples Center and may be a fait accompli for any team not wearing purple and gold. Of course, that not-so-bold prediction didn't look so hot after the Lakers stumbled out of the gate on opening night, looking bizarrely human in a loss to the Clippers.
But this is a marathon, not a sprint. L.A. regrouped and unwrapped their new toys on the Christmas stage, with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks playing the role of foil. Davis and James combined for 50 points. Schroder and Harrell combined for 40. At times it was unclear which duo was the most dynamic.
The latter went a combined 17-for-24 from the floor. Throw in Davis and that trio was 27-for-40. Collectively, the Lakers shot over 56 percent from the floor in a 23-point laugher. Small sample size? Yes. A sign of many similar nights to come? Assuredly.
Only the most reactionary Chicken Littles believed a season-opening defeat meant the sky was falling. Yet seeing the masterplan in action, in a game that mattered, was a stark reminder of just how damn good this team will be on any given night. And how tall a task it will be for any side to prevail against them in a seven-game series.
The Lakers' advantage on the glass was 61-34. Marc Gasol played 20 minutes, shot once and didn't do any of his trademark ball distribution, but managed to collect nine rebounds. We should all get used to these lopsided figures as they'll persist all year. A team that presented matchup problems with its length last year only got more active — with three players capable of attacking the offensive glass and cleaning up things on the defensive end to start fast breaks.
At this point, it's probably best to stop dancing around the bush. Given what happened in the short offseason and using all of 48 minutes last night as a guide, it seems prudent to at least get the crown out of the box so it can be given to the Lakers once again at a moment's notice. Because dammit if they didn't get a lot better and will need a series of unfortunate incidents to keep them from repeating.
We all knew this, of course. Seeing it in action, though, is a helpful reminder.