The Los Angeles Lakers are now 6-4 in a season many expected to end with a trip to the lottery, significantly altering the expectations for the team in the eyes of many, starting shooting guard Nick Young included.
“We think we could [make the playoffs], for sure," Young told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. “If we continue to play how we’ve been playing.”
As crazy as it sounds, could Young be right? Ten games into the season, the Lakers rank 11th in offensive rating (scoring 106.6 points per 100 possessions) and 15th in defensive rating (103.5). Both are massive improvements over their 29th and 30th rankings in those respective categories last season.
The Lakers’ growth on both sides of the ball has led to them currently holding the sixth best record in the Western conference, which would leave them in the playoffs if the season ended today. Young made these comments after the Lakers’ sixth win of the year, a mark the team didn’t hit until December 30th (!!!) last season.
Despite all of those positive indicators that this might just be a team that can compete for a postseason spot, Lakers head coach Luke Walton says the team can’t get ahead of themselves:
Luke continued: "If we start focusing on the playoffs & not the little things, then we won’t even be close to making the playoffs” (on SPSN)— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 13, 2016
The Lakers are playing far better than most thought possible, and perhaps the biggest positive to come out of their start is that their players can believe the playoffs are a possibility without it coming off as completely delusional. There is still a long way to go until the postseason and 72 games left to play, but this season already appears to be a giant win for the Lakers after three-straight years of new lows.
And as for the playoffs, maybe the team is better off if we don’t believe just yet:
Nick Young: "Let people keep not respecting us, let us fly under the radar and by the end you'll see some good results."— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 13, 2016