LeBron Gives Honest Assessment of Lakers' Chances to Win the Title This Season

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he speaks to the media during the Los Angeles Lakers Media Day at the UCLA Health Training Center on September 24 in El Segundo, California. Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers might have signed the best player of his generation but they have "a long way to go" before challenging the Golden State Warriors, according to the man himself.

Speaking at the Los Angeles Lakers media day on Monday, LeBron James was eager to stress the 16-time NBA champions face a tortuous path to the top.

"We got a long way to go to get to Golden State," James was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"They can pick up right where they left off, starting with training camp […] We are picking up from scratch, so we got a long way to go. We can't worry about what Golden State is doing […] They've been together for a few years now."

After missing the playoffs only twice between 1976 and 2013, the Lakers have not made an appearance in the postseason since and LeBron's arrival is expected to re-establish them among the leading contenders.

The three-time NBA champion has made the NBA Finals in the last eight years but extending the streak looks a tough ask in the upcoming campaign.

However, he was eager to stress that competing for the ring wasn't the only benchmark the Lakers should be measured by this season.

"I don't believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship," he added. "There's only one champion. But that doesn't mean you're not successful."

LeBron was expected to be joined in California by another superstar, with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard thought to be the leading candidates back in July. However, neither will play in California next season, and there have been some criticizing the Lakers' recruitment this summer.

Last week, Magic Johnson, the Lakers' president of basketball operations, defended the decision to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and sign Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley.

LeBron did not directly address the business done by the Lakers in the summer but admitted it would take time for the roster to gel together.

"We are all new to each other; we have to take our bumps and our bruises," he explained. "There are going to be good times and bad times. If we continue to work the process and continue to sacrifice for one another and put in the commitment and time to being great, everything else will fall into place."

In Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart the Lakers have one of the most promising young cores in the league and Johnson has previously indicated the Lakers expect their young players to improve under LeBron's tutelage.

If the latter sound subdued, Ball was certainly excited at the prospect of playing alongside the four-time MVP and admitted the Lakers will have to cope with heightened expectations this season.

"We have the best player in the league," he said, as per Lakers Nation. "And expectations are a lot higher now."

Lonzo Ball on his health and improving from last year. #Lakers pic.twitter.com/b6y3JuPD27

— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) September 24, 2018

It will be interesting to see whether LeBron's words will have an impact on the way bookmakers see the Lakers this season. So far, the bookies have seemingly bought into the Lakers hype, with Westgate SuperBook making them fourth favorite to win the title this season at 12/1.