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As currently constructed, would the Lakers make the playoffs?

ESPN released their latest projections and, while it’s just one piece of analysis, there’s just no way around this right now: The Lakers aren’t built to be competitive in a loaded Western Conference.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is easy for both fans and front offices to sometimes get too preoccupied with their own team.

When looking inward, an individual could lose track of the broader task at hand, and often, fail to respond to what their competition is doing. The Lakers may or may not currently be falling victim to this.

But regardless of how wide the team’s focus is heading into the new year, they likely will have one last shot to improve their roster. A hypothetical move that could accomplish this would almost certainly revolve around Russell Westbrook.

Whatever return Los Angeles ultimately nets for Westbrook remains to be seen, but a real argument could be had that the conference around them is shaping up to be stronger than ever.

Between the Warriors’ well-oiled machine, Denver’s key acquisitions and internal returns, and the Clippers potentially return to full health, a case could be made that there are a handful of legitimate contenders within the conference — and perhaps, maybe even in the Pacific division alone.

As per tradition, early projections of the standings have begun to roll out and the latest paint the Lakers not just removed from the upper echelon, but on the outside of the playoff picture altogether.

According to ESPN’s poll on Tuesday, the site’s staff predicted the current roster to finish ninth in the West with a 42-40 record. While an improvement from their final win-loss tally last season, it would mark a far cry for a team with hopes of rebounding into contention once again.

Ultimately, this is just one census, and attempting to earnestly evaluate the team as it is currently constructed is likely misguided given the trade smoke surrounding the organization.

However, the West has definitely gotten better, and if the Lakers aren't able to swing an impact deal, there certainly is a range of possibilities where next season doesn't turn out much better than the last one. This brings us to today’s episode.

On this week’s edition of “Talk-O-Tuesday,” our hosts Alex Padilla and Alex Regla recapped the latest on the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving saga in Brooklyn, as well as where the Lakers currently stand on that front.

Then the duo spent the rest of the show discussing ESPN’s projections, and debated whether or not they are revealing, fair or off-base.

You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.