Lakers on the Road to Playoff Contention

Troutfarm27 via Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles Lakers championship banners and retired jerseys hanging inside Arena.

The Los Angeles Lakers started off this season terrible and the first 5 games they played they lost before winning their first victory against the Nuggets 121-110. The Lakers did start the season off healthy with all of their star players suited up but couldn’t get the rhythm to win games. The Lakers picked up some new assets and role players to their team in the offseason.

The Lakers fired head coach Frank Vogel in the offseason and picked up Darvin Ham as the head coach, who is a 2-time NBA champ (as a player and an assistant coach for the Bucks in 2021).

During the offseason, the Lakers waived and traded a lot of players but some of the main players included Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, THT, Rondo, Avery Bradley, and Malik Monk. They did however keep Russel Westbrook, Austin Reaves, and Wenyen Gabriel.

At the end of the offseason, the Lakers ended up with new pieces which included Patrick Beverly, Lonnie Walker IV, Kendrick Nunn, etc.

Many speculate if the Lakers will have a healthy roster throughout the season and if Anthony Davis will still be as aggressive as he was before the injuries he suffered in the past 2 seasons.

The first 27 games of the season, the Lakers record was 11-16. Going into the 28th game of the season, the Lakers were facing off with the Nuggets at home. It was the 1st quarter and the score was 15-16. The Lakers set up a play for Anthony Davis and as he was landing after going up for a layup, he landed awkwardly and was taken out for the whole game. After the game, it was reported by ESPN that Davis suffered a right foot injury and would miss 3-4 weeks.

Many speculate if the Lakers would make the playoffs after this Davis injury and how would the Lakers manage with Russell Westbrook going into the NBA trade deadline.

On Jan. 24th, the Lakers made their first trade of the season. This trade included Guard Kendrick Nunn to Wizards for Forward Rui Hachimura. The Lakers needed a stretch forward that can shoot the ball and play defense.

20 games later from the Anthony Davis injury and the Lakers record was 22-26 and was not in Playoff or Play-in position. It was reported that Anthony Davis would return vs. the Spurs on Jan 25th. The Lakers’ hope of making the playoffs was not over yet.

Fast forward to the NBA Trade Deadline, on February 9th, the Lakers made some moves to increase their depth (role players). They traded away Russell Westbrook to the Jazz for D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley. They also traded away Thomas Bryant for Nuggets Guard Davon Reed. The final move the Lakers made was trading guard Patrick Beverely to the Magic for Center Mo Bamba.

The Lakers playoff hope was very well alive getting Westbrook out of LA for a great 3-man deal. Very solid roleplayers who can shoot and get rebounds.

After the All Star break, the Lakers were hot and won 7 games out of 10 but on February 26th, vs the Mavericks, Lebron James suffered a tendon injury in his right foot and will be reevaluated in three weeks.

This was the final straw the Lakers desperately didn’t need and with Lebron James out, the play-in contention will be down to the wire.

At this point on March 12th, the Los Angeles Lakers are the 11th seed tied with 3 other teams having the same exact record 33-35. The 7th-12th seeds are 1.5-2 games away from each other and there are about 14-15 games left in the season so it’s going to be extremely close for the Lakers to make that spot to secure them in the Play-In.