The Los Angeles Lakers is a franchise that is full of history. In 2019, the team will make this history as they are primed to break a particular record.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the most historic team in the NBA. Fans of the Boston Celtics would argue that their team is more historic because of the advantage of championships but those championships were all bunched together with Bill Russell.
In terms of how many superstars the franchises have had and how many different title-contending teams that they have had, the Lakers are far ahead of the Celtics.
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They also had the showtime Lakers, who consisted of three icons in their own right. James Worthy was the third-best player on that team and he is a seven-time All-Star and Hall of Famer. Magic Johnson is perhaps the most gifted point guard of all-time and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should be in (and easily could win) the GOAT debate.
Now, the Lakers even have the guy that will probably go down as the second-greatest of all-time in LeBron James, albeit past his prime.
LeBron and the rest of his teammates are going to set a new record in 2019 that none of these other teams in franchise history could do. They are going to set the franchise record in blocks per game and are going to challenge for the best number of all-time.
The franchise record for blocks per game at the end of the season is eight, which was accomplished by the 1973 Los Angeles Lakers. The reason for the high number was Elmore Smith, who recorded 4.9 blocks per game.
The greatest team all-time, in terms of blocks, is the 1985 Washington Bullets, who averaged 8.7 blocks per game. They averaged 8.7 blocks per game behind Manute Bol, who averaged just 3.7 points per game but five blocks per game.
Bol and Smith are second and third, respectively, for the most blocks in an NBA season.
Only five teams have recorded seven or more blocks per game this millennium. The 2001 San Antonio Spurs (7.0), the 2003 Detroit Pistons (7.0), the 2017 Golden State Warriors (7.5), the 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder (7.6) and the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder (8.2).
The three-best teams all include Kevin Durant, which the Lakers do not have. However, even though it is still very rare, this proves that it is possible for a team to record eight or more blocks per game in the NBA in the 21st century.
So what makes the 2019 Los Angeles Lakers a good candidate to set a franchise-best and challenge the best of all-time? They do not have Durant and the days of recording five blocks per game are long gone.
It is really quite simple: the team is deep in shot blockers, perhaps deeper than we have ever seen as they will not have to rely on one insane year to set the new mark.
Leading the way is Anthony Davis, a three-time blocks champion who has averaged more than two and a half blocks per game three times in his career. Davis is going to be the team’s primary defender and with a full workload will at least record 2.7 blocks per game. That is reasonable.
Next on the list is two centers with shot-blocking ability in JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. McGee averaged two blocks per game in 22.3 minutes per game last year, so him keeping at his pace is important to break this record.
For simplicities sake, let’s say he splits time perfectly even at 24 minutes with Howard and record two blocks per game. Howard has averaged 1.2 blocks per 24 minutes in his last five full seasons. That is 5.9 blocks per game just between those three players.
Next on the list is Danny Green, who is not a big man but certainly will rack up his fair share of blocks. He is going to be tasked as the team’s number one defender in the backcourt and as a result, is going to get himself around a block per game.
Green has averaged 0.9 blocks per game over the last five years. That moves the Lakers’ total up to 6.8 blocks per game.
LeBron James is not as good defensively as he once was but it still a great help defender that is going to use his athleticism to record some high-impact blocks this season. He is averaging 0.7 blocks per game over the last five years and has not dipped lower than 0.6.
Even if we take the lower number, that moves the Lakers up to 7.4 blocks per game.
That means the Los Angeles Lakers would need 0.7 blocks per game out of the entire rest of the roster to get over the 8.0 hump. Kyle Kuzma (0.4 in 2018), Rajon Rondo (0.2), Avery Bradley (0.3) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (0.2) move the number up to 8.5.