The Los Angeles Lakers are on the outside looking in at the current playoff picture. As we head into the second half of the season, here’s three reasons why they will still make the playoffs.
Three reasons the L.A. Lakers will make the playoffs
The Los Angeles Lakers currently stand at 28-29 on the season. Their record is good for 10th place in the West, three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth seed. If the season ended today, the Lakers (and LeBron James) would be at home watching the playoffs.
It’s an outcome that could very well become reality by the end of April, but there are still plenty of games left to be decided. The Lakers aren’t out of the playoff race just yet, but they have plenty of work ahead of them.
The thought of LeBron James not in the playoffs seems unimaginable and for good reason. Until we see it become reality, most expect him and the Lakers to be in the NBA postseason. Here are three reasons why the L.A. Lakers will make the playoffs.
The Wild Wild West
Stephen Curry hit the nail on the head, noting that “the margin of error is a little bit smaller this year.” The Western Conference is especially competitive this season, meaning most playoff spots are up-for-grabs. That couldn’t be more true for the eight and final playoff spot.
The Los Angeles Clippers currently sit in eighth place, with the Sacramento Kings behind just one game. The Lakers are behind Sacramento just two games. The Clippers and Kings could easily drop, thus opening the door for the Lakers.
The Clippers trading away Tobias Harris informally signaled their bowing out of the season. The Kings are ahead of schedule, but their inexperience could prove to be an obstacle to close out the season. If either of those two situations plays out as expected, the Lakers are right there in the hunt.
The Return of Zo
The Lakers have not been healthy for a majority of the season, and the statement still rings true today. L.A. is eager for the return of point guard Lonzo Ball, who has been out with a Grade 3 ankle sprain. Ball suffered the injury on January 19th, and his timetable is 4-6 weeks.
The Lakers surely miss Lonzo’s offensive playmaking, but they miss his defensive impact even more. Ball leads the Lakers in steals with 1.5 per game, and his length is missed against the West’s elite guards.
Once Lonzo returns to the team the Lakers will (hopefully) be at full strength. Los Angeles needs all hands on deck for a fighting chance the postseason. Lonzo’s playmaking prowess will be welcomed once he’s healthy and back in uniform.
The LeBron Factor
The Lakers went 6-11 in the 17 games since LeBron James injured himself on Christmas Day. They looked like a completely different team with their leader sidelined. They have their best shot at the postseason with number 23 back in uniform.
LeBron leads the Lakers in points, total rebounds, assists, and minutes per game. His PER is 25.7 and you guessed it, best of all Lakers players. Simply put, he is doing everything and anything to keep the Lakers’ playoff hopes alive.
LeBron is the best Laker on the court, makes his team better, and is L.A.’s best shot at winning. It’s been ages since we haven’t seen LeBron in the postseason. The Lakers are young, but if they have LeBron leading the way, bet on the Lakers playing at least through the first round of the playoffs.
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