The Lakers could hardly have been worse to start the season. It was a historically bad shooting performance that was always going to be unsustainable but was going to cost the team in the short term in the loss column. Their 0-5 and 2-10 starts have given way to the team’s current 7-11 record, one that is hardly worth praising in a vacuum but quite the turnaround in the larger picture of the season.
There were a number of built-in excuses for their poor start, like this being Darvin Ham’s first run as head coach and the roster being largely unfamiliar with one another. Injuries added another wrench in the team’s early-season ambitions.
Ultimately, though, the Lakers have overcome those obstacles and sit with a much more respectable record in late November. After Saturday’s win over the Spurs, the team’s fifth win in their last six games, LeBron spoke about what the difference in the team has been.
“Think we’re just more and more on a string,” James said. “I think we continue to learn each other. Like I said earlier in the season, we’re a new group with a new system and a new coaching staff and trying to implement things on the fly. Our teaching moments were during games and losing, unfortunately losing, at times.
“It was just a sense of we were not really sure of each other. We don’t know each other. But I think over the last couple weeks, we’ve continued to learn one another, continue to play some good ball, share the ball and it’s definitely worked in our favor.”
In the last 13 games, the Lakers are pretty much a bang average team. Offensively, their net rating is 11th in the league, marginally behind the Nets in 10th. Defensively, things have slipped as they sit 19th but over the course of the whole season, they’re still a top-ten defense in terms of defensive rating.
There has been plenty of positive regression in terms of their 3-point shooting as well as they’re 14th, having shot 35.8% from beyond the arc. For a team that was on a historically bad pace to open the year, 15th and nearly 36% might as well make them Steph Curry as a collective.
A lot of this has come against an easier stretch of their schedule, but, again, they opened the season with a brutal series of games. Anthony Davis and LeBron feasted on their opponents to jump-start the Lakers and, hopefully, send them onto an elongated winning run.
Overall, the 7-11 record is probably right where this team should be so far in the season and it’s not hard to be positive about them trending upward. The Lakers used the easy portion of their schedule to correct course after a rocky start and now will head back into tougher games with a far better sense of who they are and how to play.