LOS ANGELES - James Worthy was one of many Lakers legends in attendance Monday morning for the inaugural charity golf event, the Metta World Classic, held by Metta World Peace.
This celebrity golf tournament — powered by XvsX SPORTS — took place at the Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, CA. All proceeds went to support his charitable cause for mental health & awareness and the charities supported are the NAMI GLAC (National Alliance on Mental Illness), YMCA and Artest University.
Worthy spoke with Silver Screen & Roll prior to hitting the tees and shared his optimism that this current iteration of the Lakers can win it all with the current roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
"When you have LeBron, AD, a smart player like Austin Reaves, a D’Lo consistent more than he was last year, then you bring in Reddish and Vanderbilt, the defense and Gabe? Yeah, they got a chance to win," Worthy said. "Based on what I saw last year, ousting Memphis and Golden State and then losing to the best team in basketball, I think they got a really good chance this year."
It's hard to argue with Big Game James. This team did run it back with all the best parts of last season's team and added players who, on paper, are upgrades like Gabe Vincent, who was a flamethrower from three for the Miami Heat during their NBA Finals run last season. Add all that plus the team’s new five-out offense that creates more 3-point opportunities and further modernizes — in theory, at least — the Lakers offense and why can't they win the eight more playoff games that last season’s team fell short of and win it all?
Injuries are the answer to that rhetorical question.
Vincent has only played in four games this season and Jarred Vanderbilt just made his debut this past weekend. So, a lack of health has already prevented us from seeing what this Lakers team can be.
While still seeing the best-case scenario on the table for the purple and gold, Worthy did break down the areas the team needs to improve on to reach that ultimate goal.
"I want to see them healthy," Worthy said. "And until I can see everybody on the floor together, which is starting to show up right now, is the consistency in the first quarter, in the third quarter. They need to dominate those and they also not give up so many second-chance points. When the three-ball is shot the long rebounds, they bounce long sometimes they got to get those and they need to improve their three-point shooting on a consistent basis. Those are the things that I would think about."
Second-chance points have been an Achilles' heel for Los Angeles all season. The Lakers give up the most second-chance points per NBA.com at 16.8 a game. Add that to being the 14th-best rebounding team in the league and you can see why this team still has room for improvement, even if injuries can contextualize some of those shortcomings.
Worthy asked for consistency in the first and third quarters, but I'd argue they have been consistent. Consistently bad.
The first and third quarters are the two worst quarters for the team in terms of point differential. They are currently at -3.5 in the opening quarter and 0.3 in the third. In the second, they are marginally better at 0.4 and the Lakers save the best for last with a 1.9 in the fourth.
These huge discrepancies, particularly in the first quarter, are not a sign of a team that's elite or prepared to start a game. Perhaps with the return of Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura, head coach Darvin Ham will adjust to get these lineups winning more quarters than losing.
Worthy has been a part of and seen his fair share of championship-contending teams. He made a compelling case that this year's team has what it takes to win it all this season. Now we just have to see if the Lakers can reach that potential or continue middling in mediocrity.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.