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On paper, the Lakers came into the season with one of the more talented rosters in both the NBA and Western Conference. But no matter how much patience was preached before the season by the team, the Lakers’ slow start has dampened the mood surrounding the team.
In our latest SB Nation Reacts survey of NBA fans, the Lakers not only aren’t considered a frontrunner to win the Western Conference anymore, they’re not even considered in the top four.
In fairness to the Warriors, no team in the league is playing better than them. On Tuesday, Golden State routed Brooklyn on the road, 117-99, to improve to 12-3 on the season. And after a slightly less rocky start of their own, Phoenix is not 10-3 on the year. Utah and Denver, though, are just 1.5 games up on the Lakers in the standings.
Ultimately, it’s an early season reaction that could be predictive of the season to come or be looked back upon as an overreaction. Either way, though, it’s more than suitable fuel for the #WeBelieve narrative to return.
On the note of the Lakers slow start, it comes largely because of growing pains the team is going through after acquiring Russell Westbrook and reshaping their roster nearly on the whole. The flip side is the Washington Wizards, who took on a host of Lakers role players and haven’t missed a beat to start the season.
After a 105-100 win over the Pelicans on Monday, the Wizards sit at 10-3 and as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, giving Washington fans plenty of hope for the future.
Former Lakers Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have played big roles in the Wizards’ hot start. But while the team has had a fairly generous schedule to start the season, fans expect this hot start to carry on throughout the season.
Westbrook and the Lakers won’t meet Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope and the Wizards until mid-March. Quite a lot could change between now and then with a trade deadline still in between now and then. Or this all could be a precursor for the Wizards being the new best team in the Eastern Conference and the Lakers are the perennial play-in team.