NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal believes the Utah Jazz will be the biggest obstacle for the LA Lakers in the Western Conference.
The LA Lakers seem locked in heading into the 2021-22 season with a revamped roster. The team signed former scoring champions Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony during the current off-season. Social media has been buzzing with pictures of LeBron James and Westbrook working out.
The team also expects a healthy Anthony Davis for the upcoming season. The Lakers had a disappointing 2020-21 season, having an early-round exit in the playoffs. One of the biggest reasons for the Lakers’ lackluster performance was injuries to its superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
With the Lakers front office making significant changes, the purple and gold team is one of the favorites to win the 2021-22 NBA title. However, former Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal feels the Utah Jazz could cause some problems to the Lakers.
Recently, while appearing on ESPN’s First Take, when asked about who would be the biggest threat to the Lakers in the western conference, The Utah Jazz replied Shaq.
Shaquille O’Neal is confident about Rudy Gobert coming stronger in the upcoming 2021-22 season
The Utah Jazz had a great 2020-21 season but fell short in the playoffs. The team blew a 2-0 lead against the LA Clippers despite their best player Kawhi Leonard not playing Games Five and Six. The Jazz had the best record in the league and was also the best 3-point shooting team last year.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was sensational during the playoffs, averaging 32.3 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.1 SPG on a 44.7% shooting from the field and an impressive 43.5% from the 3-point line. However, Mitchell’s ankle injury sustained during the regular season seemed to bother him during the post-season.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert won his 3rd DPOY award last season. The 7-foot athlete averaged 14.3 PPG, 13.5 RPG, and 2.7 BPG on a 67.5% shooting from the field during the regular season. Gobert was sensational during the playoffs as well, averaging similar stats.
Gobert is the focal point of Jazz’s defense, having multiple defensive accolades under his belt. Gobert had 5 All-NBA Defensive First Team selections and has led the league in blocks in 2017.
During a recent conversation with Stephen A. Smith, Shaq stated that Utah Jazz would be the biggest threat for the Lakers.
Utah, O’Neal responded when asked who he believes the biggest threat to the Los Angeles Lakers will be in the Western Conference. I won’t be so hard on Rudy this year. Rudy [is] coming with a vengeance, Shaq said. Rudy is coming this year.
O’Neal coming out in support of Rudy Gobert seems rather strange as earlier this year, the former criticized the Jazz for giving Gobert a $200M+ contract.