It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Purple and Gold this season
Just a few weeks ago, hopes reached as high as the sky when the Los Angeles Lakers were just 8 and a half games behind the number 8 team in the Western Conference. In fact, the Lakers started out the second half of the season with a 4-game winning streak despite trading two of their best players off the bench. But then, we all need to remember one thing: these Lakers are still young with a young core led by a promising young star, Lonzo Ball.
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers won't be making noise in the playoffs for the 5th consecutive season as they are now officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Lakers now have a 32-41 record after losing to the Detroit Pistons the last time around. Despite this setback, it doesn't change the mere fact that the Lakers have grown tremendously this season despite playing and winning without their best player in Brandon Ingram who has been missing a big chunk of the regular season due to injuries.
To begin with, this is also the first season in a long while that the Lakers were able to reach 30+ wins. The last time they did? Kobe Bryant was surrounded by Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, and Steve Nash. So this current generation of the Lakers has improved from how they began the season.
What hurt the Lakers' playoff aspirations?
- As mentioned above, Brandon Ingram has been out for most of the season but he wasn't the lone Laker who was injured which didn't enable the Lakers to play together in the long haul. Aside from Ingram, Lonzo Ball also sat out a few games heading into the All-Star weekend due to injury. Josh Hart is also out as well after breaking his hand. Even Kyle Kuzma missed games. Injuries have been one of the constant problems of the Lakers which failed them in the end.
- The other reason why the Lakers won't be in the playoffs anew can be associated with them being a young team. Sure, the Lakers snapped the 14-game winning streak of the Houston Rockets last December. Sure, they pushed the Golden State Warriors to an extra period but one problem that doomed the Lakers this season is their inability to finish games strong. They were able to build big leads only to watch their opponents beat them in the 4th quarter. If they want to make a return to the playoffs, the Lakers need to toughen up physically and mentally. Maturity. More maturity in short.
Whether you love him or hate him, you gotta accept the fact that Coach Luke Walton did an amazing job in guiding his young team despite the distractions that came along the way. With the playoffs out of the picture, for now, the Lakers can now focus on finishing the season on a high note in hopes that it will lure big names to consider the Lakers as their next destination.