There’s only 16 games left in the Los Angeles Lakers regular season. There’s a possibility for more, depending on how it goes in the play-in tournament. It’s been a rough go of it out of the All-Star Game break. The Lakers are 2-6 since that juncture, with both wins coming on LeBron James’ 50-point performances in two home games.
It’s hard to say that the team has checked out. It is a bit easier to say that they are at a serious talent deficient. The lack of talent that the Lakers has seemed to be a realization amongst players and personnel around the roster. Los Angeles Times report Dan Woike shared his thoughts around the franchise as the season winds to an end. His latest newsletter detailed the following:
“Multiple conversations with staff members and players have included the some version of the phrase, ‘at least there’s only a month left’ — not exactly the kind of message you hear from a group with realistic visions of playing until early summer.”
Not the most ringing endorsement for a play-in and playoff push.
The Lakers are firmly placed ninth in the Western Conference, which would get them a home game in the play-in tournament. Depending on their health, which includes the return of both Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn, they’d get a talent boost and have a better shot at taking down the teams ahead of them. The play-in tournament starts on April 12th. Their possible opponents include the New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Los Angeles Clippers, if the season ended today.
If players are indeed checked out, then a push is almost pointless. Despite how bad they’ve been, it goes without saying that the reported mindset is surprising. Given the strange injuries we’ve seen over the last two NBA seasons in the playoffs, you can’t take a chance at the playoffs for granted. The Lakers have been on the bad end of that spectrum. It’s more the reason that should embrace their positioning and stay prepared if they get guys back and get in position.
A possible trip to the playoffs could mean seeing the Phoenix Suns or Golden State Warriors. Both teams are missing, arguably, their most important players in Chris Paul and Draymond Green. Both are returning prior to the playoffs, but who’s to say they may be rusty or still ailing? Time will only tell.