Can the Lakers Make the Playoffs?
Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers are sitting at the 10th seed (29-30) in the Western Conference. This team is led by Lebron James and a mix of young and veteran players trying to contend. So why are the Lakers fighting for a playoff spot when they have James and a promising young core?
First, the Deal.
This free agency, Lebron James left the Cavaliers again. In July he signed with one of the most successful teams, the Lakers, on a 4 year deal worth $154 million. James just couldn’t commit to Cleveland long term. Once Kyrie Irving left, it was assumed the King would leave “The Land” for the second time. Managing to take the Cavs to the Finals 4 years in a row, he walked away 1-3 within those years. While a hometown hero, it’s another hometown disaster for Ohio. It’s possible Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, pushed him out the door. Or the thoughts of being in Hollywood were just too good to turn down. Magic Johnson certainly played a role in Lebron’s decision, seeing as James looked up to Johnson growing up.
The Western Conference is stacked with teams that have multiple All Stars. Coming out of the Eastern Conference for 15 years, did Lebron really think he could take Golden State, Denver, Oklahoma, Portland, and blast his way to another Finals appearance? Joining the Lakers he thought he’d have more help but even with the Lakers young talent, it’s the same result. Before James was hurt, the Lakers were the 4th seed, mainly because Lebron’s efforts.
Even then, they’ll need help from other teams. Once they reach the playoffs? He’ll go through All Stars such as Curry, Durant, Harden, Westbrook, the list goes on. Not to mention possibly facing the Warriors (Lebron’s weakness) in the 1st round if the Lakers grab the 8th seed.
When the Lakers were trying to develop team chemistry, both Lebron and Point Guard, Lonzo Ball go down. Lebron suffered a groin injury, while Ball suffered an ankle sprain. While injured, the team engaged in trade talks once All Star PF Anthony Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans. That damaged the teams chemistry with every player except Lebron and Kentavious Caldwell- Pope (No Trade Clause) being offered. Trade talks diminished, and the deadline passed. No Anthony Davis, Ball injured and LBJ coming off of injury. The team still couldn’t get enough wins with future All Stars in Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
This is his 16th season. His attempts to win will be now. At some point father time will kick in, and an aging LBJ won’t be as fun to watch. It’ll be disappointing to see Lebron’s final years be a waste. He’s a little older, slower, sometimes he even gives up in games. Those fast break points, ain’t so fast anymore. Magic Johnson expects nothing but Showtime from him, so he can’t afford to slow down too much. Granted he’s coming off a groin injury, he still has 3 years remaining on his contract to redeem himself. Lebron being Lebron, we should expect some Lakers success. This is still only year 1 but every year matters. The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in 5 years and are looking for immediate redemption.
Is it possible for him to get through these superstar teams and back to the Finals? It’s a hard NO for me. I truly do not believe he will get back to the Finals, never mind win it all. Maybe, if he was in the East again, but he’s not.
Lebron stated that he’s “playoff activated”, so expect him to play like it’s game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. The Lakers need this young core to develop now rather than later. They need big games from Kuz and BI, a healthy Lonzo to facilitate the offense. Coach Luke Walton better come up with a master plan, because time’s running out. His team has been falling apart. The need to win is now.
Lebron James will likely retire a 3x Champion, and 3x Finals MVP. There’s nothing wrong with that. With nothing to prove to anyone, he’s just trying to prove it to himself. Just sit back and enjoy greatness, and that’s exactly what Lebron James is, GREAT. If not the GOAT, he will go down a top 3 player in NBA history.