It’s November which is when all the dramatic, Oscar-bait movies are coming out. In the NBA, there’s no better drama than Hollywood’s historic Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise with LeBron James, or, as some are calling him now, LeSpielberg. It was a rocky start having lost their first three games and starting 2-5. Since then, they have won 5 of their past 6 outings. They are 3-0 so far in the Tyson Chandler era. After this mixed start to the year, does this show signs of optimism? Well, let’s examine it.
Going into this season, nobody seriously expected this Lakers team to be a threat to win the NBA Championship. Other than a few outliers who chose this squad to miss the postseason, the lowest expectations had the Lakers losing in the first round as a lower seed and the highest expectations had them losing to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
L.A. has 10 new players on the roster. With that kind of roster turnover, early season struggles had to be expected. This team still has until April to solidify themselves for playoff basketball. That’s five months away. Two of their starters, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, are 21 years old. Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart are only in their second seasons. Ball has been battling injuries from a reported meniscus tear this offseason and recently an ankle tweak from a few days ago. Theoretically, their young players, Ball and Ingram in particular, should get better as the season goes on.
The Lakers’ main focus is not necessarily winning x amount of games. Yes, that is a factor, but winning alone is not the sole factor. This team is not winning the championship. They are at least one superstar addition away from being in the conversation. We are all well aware of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka’s intentions. It is reportedly to swing big next offseason signing either Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard and/or trading for Anthony Davis.
To accomplish that, they will not trade valuable young assets this season for anyone that isn’t the Pelicans’ big man. Moreover, they will not take on other players whose contracts do not expire at season’s end. You can stop with the Bradley Beal scenarios in the ESPN Trade Machine.
To make themselves attractive to these stars, yes, the Lakers have to win a decent amount of games. They also have to be competitive. Other than the loss against the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers’ losses have all been under 10 points. They play hard and compete. Their shortcomings are mostly not due to a lack of effort. If the Los Angeles Lakers play their playoff opponents tough even in a series loss, they might show these stars such as KD that they are the potential missing piece.
Next Up: Same Old King?