The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t seen the playoffs in years, but Lonzo Ball wants to change that during his rookie season. Ball said the team’s goal is making the playoffs back in August, and the No. 2 pick stood by that during his media day availability.
“We're focused on making the playoffs. Obviously it's going to be a tough journey, but we're looking forward to it,” Ball said when asked what he’d consider a successful season.
Asked again if he thought the Lakers can climb into playoff position in a stacked Western Conference, Lonzo again shrugged off the assertion that it’s unrealistic for the purple and gold to be thinking about a postseason run.
“That's what I'm saying, yeah. I think we can [make the playoffs],” Lonzo said.
There’s obvious reason to doubt the Lakers are going to vault from 14th in the Western Conference into the top-8. They won just 26 games last season, are putting a world of responsibility on the shoulders of a rookie point guard, and a 33.5 over-under on total wins from Las Vegas points to low confidence in a big leap.
Considering the Portland Trail Blazers barely crept into the playoffs with an even .500 record last season, the Lakers would have to play well-above expectations to achieve this goal.
Fourth-year big man Julius Randle backed Lonzo up on being focused on reaching the playoffs during his media day interview, too. Julius said “of course” he believes the playoffs are achievable, but pointed to the team needing to be focused on “everyday winning” to achieve that.
“I call it winning a day. Everyday winning, whatever we're doing. Whether it's a hard practice, light practice, whether it's a game. I don't care, just everybody locked in focused. And if we do that we'll get better every single day, and we'll see the growth as a team,” Randle said.
Meanwhile, Ingram doesn’t think setting expectations like landing a playoff spot is something to team should be worried about.
“I don't think we should set an expectation for ourselves. I think we should go out there and play freely. Try to get better on the defensive end, try to implement what we want to do on the offensive end, and overall I think it's going to work out itself,” Ingram said.
A surprising playoff run heading into free agency would be a dream scenario for the Lakers. Everything coming out of media day is positive, and we won’t have to wait much longer until we get to see it put to the test on the court. Let’s see some results, first.
*All quotes transcribed via Lakers.com