At the halfway mark of the NBA regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers have a record of 22-19, which is just good enough for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. While some might look at that record and think the Lakers have underwhelmed in their first season with LeBron James, others, like head coach Luke Walton, actually think they’re ahead of schedule.
At shootaround on Wednesday, Walton admitted to Dave McMenamin of ESPN that he thinks the Lakers are a little father along than he anticipated they would be, but he also knows that they have a long way to go before they’re where they want to be:
“I would have said we are what we’re supposed to be,” Walton replied. “And I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now. I think our record is probably a little better than I thought it would have been earlier, pre-LeBron getting hurt. And now, where it’s at, we’ve got some work to do and we know that.
“To me that’s exciting, that opportunity of, ‘Hey, we’re in this dogfight and we’ve had great moments and we’ve had awful moments.’ Like we’ve said, we’ve got a lot to learn about ourselves still and that we’ve got a lot of room for growth and I think our team will accept that challenge and opportunity and we’ll have a good end of the season.”
To recap, Walton said that the Lakers are ahead of schedule and exactly where they’re supposed to be. Bill Walton must be so proud.
The most interesting part of that quote from Walton, though, is the fact that he thought the Lakers would be worse than they are now even before James got hurt. That kind of explains why he’s been so calm during the team’s losing streaks this season.
The Lakers will use this second half of the campaign to get healthy and to ready up for what promises to be a tight race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Currently, just three games separate the eighth and 12th seed in the West, and whether you think the Lakers are ahead of schedule, behind where they should be or exactly in the right spot, we can all agree it doesn’t matter as long as the season ends with their first trip to the postseason in six years.