A star-studded team in a vibrant and buzzing city sounds like a recipe for success. However, with a mere seven games left in the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are at a crossroads; with a chance at redemption or an elimination from playoffs.
The LA Lakers are currently seeded 9th, with a season of 37 wins and 38 losses. This qualifies them for a spot in the play-in tournament; their only hope at making the playoffs. This outcome has left fans worried of facing another disappointing end to a season, and with a flood of questions for the team that was used to success and is now pressured to meet high expectations.
A team that consists of possible future Hall-of-Famers – Lebron James and Anthony Davis – would usually mean that playoffs are a guarantee. But, as we’ve seen in the past two years, that doesn’t necessarily ring true.
While the Lakers have had a successful second half of the season, going above 500. with a record of 22-17 since January 1st, they actually started off the season 2-10, going on multiple losing streaks before their All – Star break.
Nicholas Wilcox, a senior at LMU and a fan of the cross-town rival Clipper team, is surprised by the Lakers recent struggles.
“I still think it’s a disappointment, like the injury excuse can’t be used three years straight,” he said.
The Lakers have endured many tough losses, as their season has been encapsulated by injuries and team chemistry issues. In addition, a toxic fan-base has insulted, cried, and expressed their emotions on social media, longing for consistent success in a franchise that has only provided one ring in the last decade. While some teams in the NBA have never won a ring, the Lakers pride themselves on winning 17 Championships over the course of the NBA’s history.
Russell Westbrook, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, created a lot of the controversy within the Lakers’ organization. Whether it be his inconsistent play or the heated verbal exchange he had with Lakers’ head coach Darvin Ham during halftime of a game against Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook’s tenure with the Lakers will be seen as disappointing.
With Russell Westbrook’s time on the team ultimately ending in a failure, Rob Pelinka the General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, made some valuable trades and received D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt. Each has been a contributing factor in the resurrection of this Lakers’ season.
“Improving their defense was a great move, I’d say Vanderbilt and Beasley are more important additions,” Wilcox said.
With the Lakers’ second half resurgence, a sense of relief has been brought to the city of LA. However, in a season that is most likely to end in a dramatic fashion, each game is crucial. Every team seeded 5th-12th is in a tightly contested standing.
Sean Aldana, a current college student and Laker die-hard since he was a kid, is not happy with this season.
“The season definitely has been disappointing because the Lakers didn’t fix the roster from the previous year,” he said. “While they did make changes later on, that foundation is set for next year and not this year.”
The Lakers next game is against another playoff hopeful team, the Chicago Bulls, and media scrutiny will most certainly be on the Lakers. Aldana still has hope, which is a reflection of optimism that Laker fans seem to possess no matter the adversity or struggles in a season.
“I think they have a chance to get in, 6-3 is very doable,” studio analyst for the Lakers on Spectrum SportsNet, Chris McGee said. “If they can get in, they can be dangerous and make some noise, but they gotta earn it and want it.”