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Warriors vs. Lakers: How both franchises stack up against each other ahead of playoff series

Here’s a look at Golden State and LA as franchises.

2020 NBA Finals - Game Six
LeBron James and owner Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers hug after winning the 2020 NBA Championship Final over the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers will square off in the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, setting up an exciting matchup between one of the model franchises in recent league history and one of the glamour franchises which made the NBA what it is today.

Here’s a look at how the DK Nation staff assess the matchup and rivalry between the two franchises ahead of this playoff series.

Chinmay Vaidya, Sports Editor

For the longest time, the Lakers were the lone franchise on the West coast worth paying attention to in the NBA. LA’s rivalry with Boston was pivotal in the growth of the league, and the Showtime Lakers changed the way basketball was seen and played. However, the Warriors rising from the ashes over the last decade under new ownership, Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr has been unparalleled. As the league continues to undergo changes and superstars shift locations every few years, the Warriors have withstood almost every change and found ways to win. The ownership group has been willing to spend money for a championship team, and it has worked. The Warriors have won four titles in six NBA Finals appearances.

Los Angeles is always ahead when it comes to prestige, and stars will always gravitate towards the Lakers. The team missed the playoffs for five years in a row and still had LeBron James get on board. No other franchise carries that level of pull irrespective of results. When it comes to the last decade though, the Warriors have run the league.

Gabriel Santiago, DK Nation Newsdesk

Born and raised in California, I have spent considerable time living in the Bay Area (San Leandro/East Bay) as well as downtown Los Angeles (Olympic & 9th). Growing up in the 1990s, only two California teams were relevant in the NBA at the time: the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. Back then, if you told me what the Warriors would eventually turn themselves into the dynastic champions that they are now, I may not have ever believed you.

Fast forward to the present, and the Lakers are still the global brand that they always have been. Sure, Magic Johnson’s Showtime era has long passed, and the days of the late great Kobe Bryant have come and gone, but behind LeBron James, the Lake Show has a shot to secure banner No. 18. On the other hand, the Warriors have dominated the modern era of basketball under Steve Kerr, essentially changing the blueprint of the entire game behind lethal outside shooting from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Since 2015, the Warriors have won four Larry O’Brien Trophies to add to their lone San Francisco championship from 1975. The Lakers still have the edge in the overall legacy department, but in modernity, it has been the Warriors’ era.

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

Steph vs. LeBron is going to be the dominant talking point about this series, and rightfully so. But I’m fascinated by this matchup considering that these are two of the oldest franchises in the league, both carrying unique histories with very similar beginnings out West.

Both teams were at the forefront of NBA expansion to the state of California in the 1960’s, with the Lakers arriving to Los Angeles in 1960 and the Warriors moving to San Francisco in 1962. Both managed to carve out a slice of success for themselves throughout the decade, even as the Boston Celtics ran roughshod over the entire league. Both had the legendary Wilt Chamberlain dominating in the paint for them and both would eventually retire his No. 13. And both would finally break through and raise banners in the ‘70’s, the Lakers in 1972 and the Warriors in 1975.

However, a major gulf between the two franchises would happen from the 80’s onwards. The Showtime era Lakers with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cemented L.A. as THE glamour franchise in the NBA and the aura of the Purple and Gold would carry froward through the Shaq/Kobe, Kobe/Gasol, and the current LeBron era decades later. Meanwhile, outside of the “Run TMC” era and the “We Believe” team of 2007, the Warriors would spend decades in NBA purgatory. For those of us who remember how mediocre Golden State was for several years, it is still mindblowing how the Warriors have become the winning standard in the league with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

This series is a battle for the soul of California basketball and the energy is going to be electric in both LA and San Francisco.

Ben Zweiman, Senior Managing Editor

First, let’s just get it out there and say this is WAY more about LeBron vs. Steph than it is any type of Battle for California. It isn’t like the Lakers and Dubs have played a meaningful game/series outside of that play-in game back in 2021. Sure, there may be history with the two franchises, but this is the first series since 1991. That’s a lot of time. So this is about another iteration of LeBron vs. Steph.

It’s also a weird series, right? Yes, it’s Warriors vs. Lakers. It’s also the No. 6 seed vs. the No. 7 seed. Injuries have played a factor this season for both sides and there’s been turnover on the Lakers’ roster. Now that L.A. appears focused and healthy, the Lakers feel more like a top seeded team. The Warriors have just been a machine for most of Curry’s tenure. Golden State can turn it on as needed. We saw that last season with the title run. That Warriors team got hot at the right time and really took off. Both teams are coming off first-round upsets, one very different from the other.

The Warriors got by the Kings, who hadn’t made the postseason in forever. The Lakers knocked off a Grizzlies team whose best player was dealing with injury and also off-court issues. But for the Lakers and Warriors this is what they do. When the postseason starts, it’s a different season. A different mindset.

The Lakers should have the advantage in this series. Anthony Davis down low. LeBron attacking the rim. Plus, the Dubs are very, very bad on the road. That wasn’t as much of an issue against Sacramento; Golden State lost the first two on the road before rebounding to win twice on the road. The Warriors will go as far as Curry can drag them in this series/playoffs. The Lakers have more depth and it feels like LeBron and AD don’t have to do as much for the team to be successful, which is a plus.

If I had to pick a side, the Lakers would be the lean for me. L.A. is deeper and AD should eat down low. Golden State will be too one-dimensional and James should be able to exploit that.