While they’re playing their best basketball in years, the Los Angeles Lakers are still not ready for the postseason. Following their loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday, the Lakers (32-41) were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the fifth consecutive year.
This speaks more to how good the Western Conference has been this year than to how bad the Lakers are. Last season, a 41-41 record, which the Lakers can still obtain, was good enough for the No. 8 seed. This season, teams six games over .500 are well outside the playoff picture.
The Lakers are still on pace to finish with their best record since the 2012-13 season. A win in Dallas would put them at 33 wins, which is what ESPN projected they’d win at the start of the season. On a team with three rookies in the regular rotation, that’s not too bad.
That’s not to mention the complete roster overhaul the Lakers went through this summer. Only eight players from the 2016-17 season were on the Lakers’ opening night roster and two of those eight players were shipped out at the trade deadline. Head coach Luke Walton was dealt a tough hand and he did the best he could with it.
The front office is hoping to add a superstar or two in the fold this summer to dramatically increase the Lakers’ win total and ultimately end their playoff “drought,” and soon after their championship “drought.” I put quotations over “drought” because it’s only been five years since Los Angeles last made the playoffs and only eight years since their last championship.
It’s going to be okay, I promise.
Even if they strike out in free agency, they have a strong core of players that could make a playoff push as soon as next year. Another year without postseason basketball might hurt now, but it will be something to look back on when the Lake Show are back on top.