December would see the Los Angeles Lakers win just two games. As frustration builds in Tinseltown, it’s fair to say most Lakers fans are glad to see 2016 end. The year started poorly, with the team ending the 2015-16 season with just 17 wins. However when the 2016-17 season began, Lakers fans lived in hope of improvement. Fans in Los Angeles thought they were on to something, when Luke Walton’s team stood at 10-10 at the end of November. Playoff talk was on the lips of Lakers fans and for good reason, with the team playing their best basketball of 2016. However it was short lived, as December was just around the corner.
Lakers Playoff Hopes Still Alive Despite Awful December
The Lakers would win just two games throughout the month of December. Playing 18 games in total, the Lakers only wins would come against the Sixers and Clippers. After such a strong November, December would leave Lakers fans demoralized. With the team lacking confidence as the month went on, the Lakers would lose to the likes of Phoenix, Brooklyn and Dallas. All three teams had just 14 wins combined, compared to the Lakers 10 entering December. With a young roster losing close games, head coach Walton would have likely spent most of December looking for answers.
There were few positives for Lakers fans, however Walton can be happy with some individual performances to end the year. Guard Lou Williams had a superb December, averaging 21 points off the bench. Two games in particular stood out for Williams, with the former Sixth-Man of the Year putting up 40 and 38 points in back to back games. Unfortunately for Williams, the Lakers would go on to lose both games. Guard Nick Young looks rejuvenated, after a poor campaign last season. Young had a 32 point performance in a loss against the Cavaliers. December will be a month to forget for a youthful Lakers roster. Although with December out of the way, the Lakers can look forward. Walton’s team would have learned a lot, from what was basically a month of punishment brought on by their own mistakes.
Walton Can Still Deliver Playoff Basketball
December was tough for all involved, but the Lakers look set to make a playoff push in 2017. January could see the beginning of a recovery from a lackluster end to 2016. The team currently stand 2.5 games back of the eighth-seed, behind division rival Sacramento Kings. It appears the top-7 Western Conference teams have separated themselves. With the Kings currently 7.5 games back of the seventh-seed. So even with the Lakers delivering a pitiful December, Walton’s team remains in the playoff hunt. The Lakers can count themselves lucky, that no particular team has taken advantage of their poor play.
Russell and Randle Continue to Impress
Heading into the season, Lakers fans knew the roster lacked experienced. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and rookie Brandon Ingram would attract all the attention. Fans were excited by the prospect of watching a young team grow. Growing pains would of course arrive, after a good start to the season. Fans would go from being excited to being frustrated in just two months. There would be good times and bad times, not just for the team but for Randle and Russell. Both would experience injury and success towards the end of 2016. One thing both players have proved is that they can be trusted on the court.
Russell and Randle currently play less than 30 minutes per game, but continue to impress on the court. Russell is averaging 15.1 points and Randle 8.6 rebounds. So both players have proved they can contribute well, without high volume minutes.
New Years Resolution – Continue to Play as a Team
This new year couldn’t have come soon enough for Lakers fans. 2016 was a year to forget, so in 2017 the Lakers need to persevere, learn and continue to grow. There’s a good chance the Lakers can make the playoffs this year, but it’s not a must. Time is definitely on the side of Walton’s team. So as 2017 begins, remember this team is young, inexperienced and will go through growing pains.
The Lakers being in a playoff race right now, with such a young roster and an inexperienced head coach, is reason enough to be proud of this team and to feel confident going forward.