Lakers continue to disappoint fans
There is no way a LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers team will miss the playoffs, right? However, as the end of the regular season approaches, Los Angeles is in 10th place in the Western Conference and five and a half games behind the San Antonio Spurs.
This is the first time since LeBron’s second year in the league that his squad has been below .500 past the All-Star break. Coincidently, that same year, 2005, was the last year LeBron missed the playoffs. Could the same thing play out with this year’s Laker squad? FiveThirtyEight, an analytical media website, gives the Lakers roughly a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs.
It’s hard to believe that a LeBron-led team will miss the playoffs. LeBron did get hurt on Christmas, missed 18 games and the Lakers went through a rough stretch because of it. However, it’s just so hard to see LeBron not be a part of the playoffs because it has not happened in so long.
The last time LeBron missed the playoffs, Stephen Curry wasn’t even in the league. The Lakers were going to rest up during the All-Star break, recuperate and go on a run. Yet, they have lost five out their last six games, including an embarrassing loss in New Orleans to the Pelicans, who were without Anthony Davis, losing in Memphis to the Grizzlies two nights later and losing in Phoenix to the Suns, who have the worst record in the league.
The Grizzlies, Pelicans and Suns are lottery-bound teams. There are no excuses for the Lakers to lose to those teams. They had a nice come-from-behind win against the Houston Rockets two nights prior to the Pelicans loss, but in every game since the All-Star game ended, their defense has been nonexistent.
Their defense has looked lazy, and besides Rajon Rondo and LeBron, who excel at communication, it seems like nobody is communicating on the team.
The offensive side of the ball just doesn’t look fluid. Besides LeBron being LeBron, Brandon Ingram is playing very well recently, Kyle Kuzma has been solid all season, and Rondo has had some good games here and there, but the rest of the team really isn’t that good.
Last year’s Cleveland team took a lot of heat because LeBron had nobody to help him on the offensive side of the ball. No one who could create their own shot. At least with that team, everyone knew their role, and most importantly, everyone accepted their role. They all bought into Tyronn Lue’s system, and knew how to play off of LeBron. That Cleveland team was also a team full of veterans who were all about winning.
They knew the importance of defense and put their egos aside for the better of the team. Because of that, they ended up making the finals, and, if the cards fell differently early in the series, things could’ve ended differently.
It doesn’t seem like the Lakers are having fun. To the average fan, that may sound meaningless.
Yet, having fun is one the most important parts of a good basketball team. Look at the Brooklyn Nets or the Los Angeles Clippers. They both are good teams, neither at the top of their conference, but both in the playoffs as of today. Watch the Nets or Clippers play, and watch how the bench reacts after a big-time dunk, or even just a simple shot.
Notice how players are running to help one another up off the ground, see everyone high-fiving and smiling.
Everyone on the team is having a blast, from the leading scorer to the last guy on the bench — and that is what the Lakers are missing.
The Golden State Warriors are also a great example of this. Golden State is the most unselfish team in the NBA. They give up a good shot, for a great shot. Playing in that type of system is a lot of fun for players. Everyone is happy for another teammate’s success and that builds trust, which the Lakers are lacking.
After the loss to the Pelicans and the Grizzlies, LeBron called out the team, telling the media postgame, that the Lakers players need to get a sense of urgency. LeBron also stated the Lakers are the wrong franchise for distracted players. If the Lakers want to make the playoffs, they need to get that sense of urgency LeBron was discussing postgame after the Pelicans loss.
They need to buy into their roles and buy into what the coaching staff is teaching. However, it could be too late.
The locker room could be divided because of all the drama during the trade deadline. If so, they will miss the playoffs, and this Lakers team could go down as the biggest embarrassment in franchise