With just 20 games remaining, the Los Angeles Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference. Currently, the Lakers 3.5 games back from the 8th and final playoff spot. To make matters worse for the Purple and Gold, they have a brutal schedule remaining. 12 of their final 20 games will be against teams that are currently in the playoff picture. Can the Lakers playoff hopes stay alive? Can they overcome this and make the playoffs? If not, this would go down as a very disappointing season, especially for LeBron James. Who, might we remind you, has made it to eight straight NBA Finals.
What to Make of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James
How much chemistry does this Laker team have? All the Anthony Davis trade rumors obviously affected the team. Two days before the trade deadline, the Lakers lost by 42 to the Pacers without Victor Oladipo. That game the largest margin of defeat in LeBron James’ career. It’s more than fair to ask how motivated players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart are since the Lakers tried to trade them. They may be unsure if they are apart of this teams future.
The Lakers first game after the all-star break was a 19 point comeback win against the Houston Rockets. That win could have started to turn things around for the Purple and Gold, but the complete opposite happened. Following that game, the Lakers had two horrible losses in a row against the New Orleans Pelicans without Anthony Davis and the 14th place Memphis Grizzlies.
Currently, the Lakers are three and a half games behind the 8th seed. On the bright side, that amount of ground to climb doesn’t seem too bad when looking at the some of the teams they are trailing in the standings. Three of the teams currently ahead of the Lakers in the standings are the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings.
Making a Run
There’s a reason to believe why all the Lakers can jump all three of those teams. The Spurs are 3-7 in their past ten games. If they don’t turn things around fast they will fall. Also, the Clippers recently traded their best player, Tobias Harris and that could eventually catch up to them. As for the Kings, they are currently just one game ahead of the Lakers. The Kings lack of experience could hurt them down the stretch. De’Aaron Fox has had a very good year, but it’s hard to bet him leading his team to the playoffs over LeBron James.
If the Lakers do make the playoffs, how far can they go? The key for them is to get to the 7th seed and avoid the Golden State Warriors in the first round. The Lakers would get handled with ease by the Warriors in a playoff series, but other than that I would argue that the Purple and Gold can beat anyone in the West because they would have the best player in the world, LeBron James.
LeBron James’ Legacy
Yes, LeBron James is still the best player in the world. However, would that be the case if he can’t lead his team to the playoffs? Being that NBA teams are more reliant on superstars than in any other sport along with the fact that over half the teams in the league make the playoffs, it may be hard to argue LeBron as the best player in the world if the Lakers miss out on the postseason. To be fair, before LeBron was injured on Christmas, the Lakers were the 4th seed in the West. In his absence, the team went 6-12 and that obviously can’t be blamed on James.
How much would missing the playoffs affect LeBron James legacy? LeBron has taken his team to the NBA finals for eight years in a row but in the inferior Eastern Conference. LeBron going from playing in the finals eight consecutive years to not even making the playoffs the year he started playing in the harder Western Conference for the first time would damage his legacy, fair or not.
A mural of LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey is viewed in Venice, California on July 9, 2018. – It was originally revealed July 6, 2018, and then vandalized over the weekend, and re-touched up again with the word “of” not repainted from the original words “the King of LA”. Artists Jonas Never and Menso One painted the mural to welcome LeBron James to Los Angeles, outside the Baby Blues BBQ resturant in Venice, California. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION – TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)