Los Angeles Lakers had the worst 2022 season. From title favorites spot to not qualifying in the playoffs was certainly a devastating outcome for 17-time world Champions. But as a champion franchise, they are looking to fight back from the adversity with required changes in their roster and also in the supporting cast. Now that the training period has begun, NBA on the ESPN team evaluated every team from the West for their probable winning percentages. Sadly for the Lakers though, the picture is not very encouraging. They are currently ranked in the assessment, and senior analyst and writer Brian Windhorst even said that it’s a kind of “generous” ranking with the team the franchise has.
Talking about the Lakers’ predicted 42 wins and chances in the 2023 season, Brian said, “That believes that Lakers are getting healthy season from Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Because, unless those two are playing at a very high level with the roster that they currently have, the Lakers have to be great to get into the playoff situation.”
The assessment gave Phoenix Suns topping the Western Conference with champions Warriors occupying the second spot again. Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, and LA Clippers complete the confirmed playoff positions with required win percentages. As for the Lakers fans, their team is ranked 9th – 2 places above last year’s finish and competing for play-in games. They will face challenges from Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, and newly formed super team Minnesota Timberwolves to qualify for the postseason.
Is there any difference for Los Angeles Lakers between the 2022 and 2023 seasons?
After 2021 season elimination at hands of ultimate finalist Phoenix Suns, the Lakers were poised to make a big move, and they did rope in one of the dynamic scoring guards in Russell Westbrook. They gave away half of their 2020 championship winner roster for the same and balanced it with signing veterans on shorter deals.
The trade to get Westbrook was a bold move and certainly an ambitious one. They were instant favorites to win the title, with a new trio of offensive prowess on their roster. But things didn’t work well for the LA franchise, as there were many issues observed during the 2022 season. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis facing injury issues, defensive lapses, and chemistry issues proved reason enough to limit the Lakers on 11th place finish.
Coming into the 2023 season, the Lakers made adjustments to their previous errors. First, they replaced head coach Frank Vogel with championship experienced player coach Darvin Ham. They also opted to keep their core and surround it with some young budding basketball talent, who can chip in with extra minutes and help defensively.
It will allow Lakers veterans like LeBron James and Russell Westbrook to prolong their games deep into the season and also in the ply-in or playoff games. There is no question about the talent team possesses offensively and defensively, but they need to outperform their opponents on a nightly basis.
While talking on the bench players, Brian added, “The supporting cast that they have is really half hazard, and with the new coaching staff; they are going to have new bunch of players, new alignments. They are really going to need LeBron and AD to carry them in the Western conference that is going to be highly highly competitive.”
LeBron James and Anthony Davis certainly hold the key for the Lakers, as we have seen in the past, their presence made a huge difference in the team’s performances. The analysis on the paper seems pretty good and discouraging for the title-chasing Lakers, but it can prove to be a motivational factor too.
Keeping in mind LeBron’s extension, least expectations from the team, new coaching style, and young players out to prove themselves; the Lakers can turn the tales around by playing to their full potential. They may end up securing a playoff spot without going through a play-in situation.