NBA season preview 2018-19: LeBron the Laker, what it means

LeBron James is a Laker and he will try to bring Los Angeles back to its Showtime glory.

LeBron James is already in rareified air, and he could be in a league all his own depending on how things work out in L.A. [File photo]   -  Getty Images

LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker. So what does that mean? It means a lot to many different people, but most important, it means the Western Conference has been put on notice.

The Warriors is the favorite to win the NBA title for the third year in a row and fourth time in five years, but every team out West knows it must go through James to get to the NBA Finals.

No longer can teams rest on the fact James is in the Eastern Conference, and there's no chance it will have to face him until the Finals. No, every Western Conference team now knows every single road goes through James and the Lakers.

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The Timberwolves, Nuggets, Pelicans, Trail Blazers and Clippers aren't just fighting for the final four playoff spots, they're probably fighting over three as James will likely find a way to get his team to 50 wins and a top playoff spot.

It means the Warriors and Rockets don't just have to worry about each other. James could be lurking in either the conference semifinals or quarterfinals and to get to the championship, the Rockets has to go through James and the Warriors, or vice versa, the Warriors has to go through the Rockets and James.

Everything in the West just got a little harder and it's all because of that one man.

Beyond this season, it could have even greater ramifications. The free-agent periods in 2019 and '20 just got a lot more interesting as players like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and Kevin Durant could move teams.

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One, or even two, could join James in Los Angeles. If that happens, then the West could get even tougher. Then the discussion would have to begin again about LeBron's legacy.

If James could get out of the West and win another championship, that would be three titles with three teams. James is already in rareified air, and he could be in a league all his own depending on how things work out in L.A.

LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, so his arrival with the Lakers means a lot for himself, for the Western Conference and the team itself, but the impact of his arrival there is something that will affect the NBA for years to come.

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