This has been a frustrating season for Los Angeles Lakers fans, one that has dashed the hopes that seemed so promising in the summer.
When GM Rob Pelinka acquired 3 future Hall of Famers, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Russell Westbrook, to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis, visions of another title danced in fans’ heads.
Yet right from the start of the season the team has struggled. At the halfway point their record is a mediocre 21-20, good for just 7th place in the Western Conference. So far they haven’t come close to resembling a championship contender.
Fans aren’t blind. They know that their eyes are not deceiving them. It looks like the Lakers will be lucky just to qualify for the playoffs. And a first-round loss might be in their future just as it was against Phoenix last year.
So why should anyone expect anything to be different going forward?
Well, perhaps the Lakers will follow the infamous words of author Mark Twain, who wrote over a hundred years ago in response to a newspaper obituary that “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.
Here are five reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers might still turn out to be the team many thought they’d be:
1. Timing is Everything
As all fans know, NBA championships are not won in October, November, December or even January. Teams that peak early in the season frequently fall back to earth when the games count the most in the playoffs. And vice versa. That’s good news since the Lakers haven’t come close to peaking yet.
Let’s remember that only 3 of their 15 players returned from last year. Any team that turns over 80% of its roster needs time for the players to get accustomed to one another.
The timetable was worsened because of injury. LeBron missed 12 of the first 38 games. Then AD was injured and has sat out 14 and counting. Kendrick Nunn has yet to play even one game. Only two Lakers have played all 41, Westbrook and Anthony. Every other player missed at least 5 games.
The lack of continuity has contributed mightily to the Lakers’ mediocrity. That’s especially true on the defensive end, where familiarity with one another is paramount to playing good team D.
In addition, with 9 players over age 30, this team was built for the postseason, when games tend to slow down and a lack of athleticism is not nearly as important. Veterans also typically adjust better to matchups over the course of an extended series.
So the Lakers rather pedestrian first half does not necessarily doom their title chances.