The basketball world was turned upside down when LeBron James decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers last summer. After being in the Eastern Conference his entire career, James was finally heading to the wild, wild, west. After some head-scratching signings and unfortunate injuries, the Lakers’ playoff chances are starting to look bleak.
Is it Time to Hit the Panic Button for the Los Angeles Lakers?
The Lakers didn’t necessarily start the season on a high note; losing their first three games. Despite the start, the Lakers were able to weather the storm and remain in the top half of the Western Conference standings.
Aside from James’ heroics, the role players were also pulling their weight. JaVale McGee was a force in the paint while Lonzo Ball was showing some flashes here and there. Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram were also essential in the Lakers’ success. The Lakers were getting to the paint at will and relying on a lot of fast-break buckets.
The Lakers’ “run and gun” style was easy on the eye, but many wondered if James could sustain that frantic pace for the entire season. Then, the unthinkable happened, and James went down with a scary groin injury against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas day.
Injuries and Rumors
Despite James’ injury, the Lakers were still able to finish off the Warriors on the road, giving Lakers’ fans a ton of optimism moving forward. Things wouldn’t be quite the same after that Christmas day game.
With James sidelined, the Lakers couldn’t keep their head above water and plummeted to ninth place. This stretch was problematic because it forced James to return before being back at 100 percent.
Amidst the struggles, Anthony Davis trade rumors were also taking a toll on the young Lakers. They weren’t sure where their future would be and the uncertainty reflected their play on the court.
To add salt to the wound, Ball was also diagnosed with an ankle sprain on January 20th and has yet to return to the court. Even though Ball’s offense can be hit or miss, his defense and ability to control the tempo have been missed.
The Lakers will need to ramp things up if they would like to taste the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The team has looked sluggish on defense and they seem to be missing an identity on offense. With a couple of bad losses against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies, hope is starting to diminish.
They are currently three games back of the San Antonio Spurs, who hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can somehow find a sliver of hope down the stretch.