Former Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale isn’t a believer in the Lakers

Houston Rockets Kevin McHale (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Kevin McHale (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

Former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale isn’t as high on the Los Angeles Lakers as everyone else in the national media.

The 2019-20 NBA season was the year of the super duos, which were a bit different than the “Big Three” trios that had been formed of late. The Houston Rockets formed one of their own in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, which not only proved to be the highest scoring duo in the league this season, but also one of the highest scoring duos of all-time.

The Los Angeles Lakers formed one of their own in Anthony Davis and LeBron James, which many believe were the best overall duo in the NBA. The Lakers went 49-14 and secured the top spot in the Western Conference prior to the league getting shut down because of the novel coronavirus.

The Lakers were picked by many as the favorites to win the championship this year, but not by former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale. The NBA Hall of Famer joined ESPN 97.5 and said the following about The Lake Show.

“This is about as open as we’ve seen it in awhile. Golden State is not in it.

The Lakers? Yeah LeBron James and Anthony Davis are unbelievable but some other people have to make shots and make plays.

In a playoff situation, you’re taking the ball out of those guys’ hands.”

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The former Houston Rockets coach makes several great points here, starting with the fact that we finally saw parity across the league, due to the dismantling of the superteam Golden State Warriors. McHale is also right as it pertains to the Lakers, as they’re certainly top-heavy.

Former Rockets coach Kevin McHale has doubts about the Lakers.

To add color to that, Davis and LeBron are the top-two leading scorers on the team, with averages of 26.7 and 25.7 points per game. But behind them is Kyle Kuzma, who is the only other player on the team who is averaging 10+ points per game.

Not only is that a steep drop off, but it’s exactly why McHale isn’t crowning the Lakers champions, unlike the rest of the basketball world. By comparison, the Rockets had six players who finished the season in double-figures, and the Westbrook/Harden tandem outscored LBJ and AD by a combined 9.5 points.

McHale’s premise is that in the postseason, teams will force other players to beat them other than AD and LBJ, and what we saw from the Lakers’ supporting cast this season has shown that this would be a successful formula.

In the most recent matchup between the Lakers and the Rockets it was clear that if LeBron and Davis aren’t both outer-worldly, the Lakers’ chances of winning is significantly lower. During that game, LeBron had just 18 points, and the Lakers lost to the Rockets 121-111 at home.

But it wasn’t just that game that proved McHale’s point, as there were 11 games this season in which James finished with fewer than 20 points and the Lakers went 5-6 during those games. Several of these losses came against the Orlando Magic and the Memphis Grizzlies, who are both below .500.

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When you add this all up, it’s understandable why McHale isn’t sold on the Lakers. We’ll have to wait and see if McHale is right, and from what we’ve heard, it sounds like plans are being formulated by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to get the league back in action. This means McHale’s theory will be put to the test sooner rather than later.