The Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night seemed to be the latest indication of where the team stands in the NBA hierarchy. The Thunder are a fine team, but also one likely competing for a low playoff seed rather than a true contender, and they fended off the Lakers relatively easily.
It was the type of game that seems to confirm Los Angeles will be lottery bound for the fourth consecutive season, but Lakers veteran Metta World Peace looked at the game differently.
"We have a playoff team. The guys are very, very good. I’ve seen a lot of teams and this team is special,” World Peace said on Spectrum Sportsnet after the game (as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation). "I don’t want to lose too many games like this when you’re the better team.”
(It’s important to note here that World Peace also claimed he was touched innapropriately by ghosts the night before the game, and that being true is actually slightly more likely than the Lakers making the playoffs and/or being better than the Thunder)
Whether World Peace actually believes the Lakers are better than the Thunder is a matter of debate, but these are the types of comments the Lakers kept him around for.
The veteran understands how to play the game in his seventeenth season, from pumping up the young Lakers with confidence and culture building comments like these to giving the media ghost stories to write about rather than focusing solely on a Lakers loss.
World Peace also thinks the Lakers are better than the Thunder off the court:
MWP: "They only got one guy (Russell Westbrook) on OKC with swag appeal & we’ve got like 15, so we got them beat there.”— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 31, 2016
He also believes that whether or not the team makes a borderline-impossible playoff run, they are building a promising foundation:
Metta World Peace: "We have the pieces here to do something really special & build on it.”— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 31, 2016
“Build” is the key word there. The Lakers are by no means a finished product, and by no means a playoff team barring the rest of the Western Conference going on strike. That’s okay, because they just need to show progress this year as they build forward.
From Julius Randle’s passing to D’Angelo Russell’s flashes of scoring dominance, the team is showing plenty of those. It just won’t be enough to make them a playoff contender this season.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.