Chemistry is more than just my worst subject in college. It was also the driving force for much of the success the Los Angeles Lakers have had this season, albeit chemistry of a more figurative type.
Time and time again, this roster has credited how much they all like each other — and the special bond that’s led to — as a major key to their Western Conference-best 49-14 record so far this year. Now that the NBA season has been derailed due to the threat of coronavirus, a major question facing every NBA team that’s still playing for something is whether or not they’ll be able to pick up where they’ve left off.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is confident that if his team does get back on the floor this season, they can recapture some of the magic that’s fueled their success (via Bill Oram of The Athletic):
“We have to re-establish our chemistry, re-establish our work ethic, re-establish our conditioning and rhythm and timing,” Vogel said. “But every team in the league is going to have to do that. And with the veterans that we have on this team, the way we’ve come together so quickly for really a new group, it gives me a reason to be encouraged that we can accomplish this very quickly again.”
Something that might give the Lakers a leg up there is how much adversity they’ve already dealt with this year:
Before the season was put on hold, the Lakers had already had a bizarre and unprecedented season, from being in China during the Daryl Morey controversy in the preseason to the tragic death of icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
“It sort of defines the way our season has been,” Vogel said. “A lot of unusual circumstances and hopefully we’re able to resume safely and have an opportunity to finish what we started. That’s what we’re all hoping for. Again, just making the best of our circumstances, and focusing on what we can control.”
Somewhat paradoxically, one of the factors that allowed the Lakers to both develop so much chemistry and learn how to mesh together on the court so quickly — how many veterans they have on their roster — may work against them in a shortened season.
Lakers forward Jared Dudley has admitted that veteran players would need “at least a month” to ideally prep to resume playing basketball, and given calendar constraints, that may be time the NBA doesn’t have. And just throwing guys in without that time to prepare may lead to a rash of injuries amidst rusty play, and at some point it’s worth debating whether the outcome of any such tournament would really be an accurate reflection of who the best team was this year, rather than just a war of attrition younger teams may be better positioned for.
Still, it’s clear that getting to finish the season and giving the Lakers and other contenders a shot to try and win the title would be better — strictly from a basketball perspective, as long as things are safe enough to do so by that point — than not doing so, so this isn’t an argument to cancel the season altogether (although that very well still may happen).
All of this is more just to acknowledge that there are plenty of complications beyond the serious health issues that will factor in to whether or not the NBA will resume its season, and when it will do so. Still, if and when that does happen, at least the Lakers will have their chemistry and experience dealing with adversity to lean on when the latter almost inevitably hits. That has to be worth something, right?
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