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This Is Where ESPN Has Ranked The Lakers With LeBron James

lebron james at lakers summer league

We're still about three months away from the NBA season opening up. However, it isn't too soon for some preseason power rankings.

ESPN put out its very early NBA Power Rankings earlier today. More than 40 panelists provided input on the standings.

The biggest question for many people: where will the Lakers be with LeBron? Few expect LA to make a run at the NBA Finals next season, but a playoff spot is expected. After all, LeBron hasn't missed the playoffs in over a decade.

According to ESPN, the Lakers are No. 9 in the NBA, and sixth in the Western Conference after adding King James.

Magic Johnson got his man LeBron James and then the Lakers proceeded to construct a curious supporting cast. It features tough veterans with playoff experience that they believe will give James multiple versatile options who can make plays and defend. Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley all bring a variety of talents but also an interesting mixture of strong and even quirky personalities. The Lakers added three players to their young, growing core in the draft. Lonzo Ball (torn left meniscus) underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and the Lakers' hope is to have him ready for the season.

At first glance, this ranking seems about right for the West. LA should clearly be below the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder and Jazz. After that, they could slot in anywhere from fifth to 10th depending on how things go.

LA hasn't been to the playoffs since 2013. The franchise is starving to get back among the elite in the NBA, and signing LeBron is supposed to help do that.

The Western Conference will once again be strong--consider that ESPN has the Spurs and Timberwolves as the No. 9 and 10 teams in the conference right now--so LA making the postseason isn't a lock by any means. You know what you will get from James, but the Lakers badly need their young players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma to take that next step.

Add in the motley crew of veteran free agents that LA signed, and there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team for next year.