The Los Angeles Lakers have forced their way back into the list of contenders and they’ve done it the smart way.

The LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led team had a strong offseason, building off quality moves at the NBA trade deadline in February, and have built a roster of solid role players to fit around LeBron and Anthony Davis.

Lakrs superstar LeBron James
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA JANUARY 7, 2020-Lakers LeBron James celebrates his basket and a foul by the Knicks at the Staples Center Tuesday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angerles Times)

Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent, Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood. While it’s just preseason, the Lakers’ offense has been clicking and the team overall has felt consistent.

LeBron is coming off a deserved All-NBA season and is the best 38-year-old player the league has ever seen. However, this is not the 2013 peak LeBron. While the Lakers’ version can use his IQ and skills to shepherd the game the way he wants, he’s not dominating the game the same way.

Davis has to emerge as the true No. 1 for this team. The goal when the Lakers got Davis was for there to be a passing of the torch at some point, but health has kept AD from fully grabbing that mantle. He must now.

That’s particularly true on defense. Last playoffs, when the Lakers made their run to the Western Conference Finals, Davis was the best defensive player in the league. That’s the guy the Lakers need — AD needs to be in the DPOY conversation.

Ham also wants Davis to be aggressive on offense.

“Obviously, we want to build our way out from the paint in terms of how we go about attacking our opponent. And just me wanting him specifically to be aggressive from all three levels,” Ham said.

Can the Lakers stay healthy?

Anthony Davis has never played more than 62 games in a season with the Lakers and hasn’t played in more than 70 since 2018.

LeBron’s biggest concession to age is games played due to injuries and rest. He played 55 games last season, and 56 the season before that.

Despite how stacked the West is, if the Lakers can stay healthy, they are a problem to anyone.