From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
We just said goodbye to the playoff-bubble-mandated NBA playoffs Oct. 11, with the Lakers capturing the franchise’s 17th title with a six-game triumph over the Heat in the Finals near Orlando, Fla.
Tonight, just 71 days later, the 2020-21 regular season hits the courts tonight, with the Warriors playing at the Nets and the Lakers playing host to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
This time, well at least at the start, there won’t be a bubble necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams will play on their true home courts.
With record 13-time All-NBA First Team member LeBron James and Anthony Davis re-signed for the future, the Lakers have significantly upgraded their starting and backup units, and are heavy favorites to repeat in 2021.
General manager Rob Pelinka did not sit on his tuffet the past two months.
He added guards Dennis Schroder and Wesley Matthews, and forwards Montrezl Harrell (Sixth Man of the Year) and Marc Gasol (former Defensive Player of the Year) to the roster.
Pelinka moved away from guards Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Danny Green, and forwards Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, but he retained guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Overall, the roster improved on paper by at least 25 percent.
The Lakers upgraded with youth, improved secondary scoring, toughness, better health, and most importantly, the roster’s added flexibility should ease the workload for soon-to-be 36-year-old James, and Davis.
James and Davis, who seem to be in perfect harmony with each other, should be happy with the front office’s moves.
There are plenty of strong teams in the Western Conference, and much improved squads in the East, but the Lakers have the talent, experience and motivation to capture their second straight crown in July.
Here’s my quick forecast of predictions for the season:
n FINALS — Lakers over Bucks.
n MVP — Davis.
n SCORING CHAMP — James Harden, Rockets (for now).
n ROOKIE — James Wiseman, Warriors.
n DEFENSIVE PLAYER — Davis.
n SIXTH MAN — Schroder.
n COACH — Lisbon High School graduate Rick Carlisle, Mavericks.
n Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in the NFL: 1. Chiefs; 2. Bills; 3. Packers; 4. Titans; 5. Saints; 6. Steelers; 7. Colts; 8. Dolphins; 9. Ravens; 10. (tie)Browns, Seahawks.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com