Just about a week ago, on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 12, it’s fair to say Lakers fans’ confidence in this current roster might have been at an all-time low.
No, seriously, it’s probably fair to say that, because the Lakers fans we poll every week (a group that likely includes some of you reading this right now) had the least faith in this team they’ve had since our weekly FanPulse survey started collecting results this season.
As of that morning — which is when the results were finalized for that week — the Lakers had just stood pat at the trade deadline, and seen their top post-deadline free agency target, Darren Collison, opt to stay retired. The team was also 4-3 in their last seven games, with an especially dispiriting loss to the Houston Rockets — who did make a big move at the deadline — sandwiched in there.
With all of that context factored in, it perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise when our weekly fan confidence poll dropped to the lowest level it has all season:
Still, over 75% of Lakers fans still being confident in the team is significant, even if it was the lowest point for the fanbase this season, so I took to Twitter to poll my followers, and it confirmed that the majority of them (mostly Lakers fans, I’d imagine) are still very confident that not only can the Lakers win a title this season, but that they will:
POLL: Just to give us a different source and because I'm curious, do you think the Lakers will win the title? Not CAN they, but if you had to pick right now, WILL they?— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 12, 2020
And for however much doom and gloom there was within the fanbase then, it’s mostly dissipated (at least for now).
After those two poll results, there were a few changes in the status quo for the Lakers. For one, the team had an exciting, palate-cleansing overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets to head into the All-Star break the next game after those results were finalized. Then, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Frank Vogel and the rest of the Lakers’ coaching staff got a come-from-behind win for Team LeBron in the 2020 NBA All-Star game.
And while the Lakers still haven’t made any moves (and have actually missed out on at least one player they reportedly had interest in), it would seem the positive momentum from just nothing bad happening has been enough to raise fan confidence nearly all the way back to previous levels:
Those being polled aren’t quite flirting with going above the 100% mark for confidence anymore, but it would seem that simply having a week off and not having very many other bad things happen has given most confidence that this team can still do some really big things this season.
And for all the reactionary negativity we’ve seen at times this year, there are justifiable reasons to be that confident! The Lakers do have the best record in the West (41-12) after all, and a five-game lead in the loss column on the No. 2 seeded Nuggets. They are also one of just seven teams in the NBA with a winning record against other teams with winning records, and one of just three teams with a top-five offense and defense, according to NBA.com.
Basically, the Lakers have all the marks of being a contender, even if they also do have a few real flaws (size on the wing, secondary ballhandling) as well.
All that is just to note that things are almost never as great or bad as they seem on social media or in the comments, because sometimes all it takes is one week of inertia and some removal from the situation to realize that things that seemed like the most significant thing in the world at the time might not actually matter as much as it seemed like they did at the time.
As we head into the final 29 games of the season and the stretch run to the postseason, that’s worth remembering. There will be highs and lows, but we have a large enough sample of reasons to believe in this team that we shouldn’t let single games or events (outside of the catastrophic) alter our analysis of this team too much until we get to the postseason and see how they match up with their opponents there when the games really start to matter.
If you want to sign up to be a part of the FanPulse poll for next week (it takes 30 seconds to sign up and less to answer the questions each week) you can do so here. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.