The Lakers are currently 11th in the west and 8.5 games out of the playoffs with a measly 31-38 record. Since LeBron James activated “Playoff Mode” the Lakers are 3-9. No one expected the Lakers to be taking on the Warriors head on this season, but if you were to tell an NBA fan last season that LeBron James would not be making a playoff push, they would have thought you were crazy. On paper, this Lakers team seems miles better than the Cavaliers team that James dragged to the finals last year, but this year is different. The Lakers have had to overcome a lot of adversity this season, whether it be injuries or Magic Johnson attempting to trade everyone but LeBron. One of these injuries may have just been the final straw that tore this team apart.
Losing Lonzo Ball proved to impact the rest of the Lakers in an unforeseen manner. When Lonzo and LeBron were on the court together, they won 58.8% of their games which would yield around 40 wins after 69 games which would leave them in contention for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Instead, they are only 3.5 games ahead of the Mavericks who only have a better record than the Suns. Additional injuries to Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo have also proved to be costly, however the Lakers seem to be all in on the tandem of Ball and James. Ball and James have an offensive and defensive net rating of positive 3.1, which is 9.7 points better than Rondo and James. Ball’s constant hustle on defense, and his passing vision of offense, have been crucial to the Lakers success this season, and it is clear that his absence has been extremely detrimental to the progress of the organization. However, losing Lonzo is not the only problem with the Lakers this season.
When Magic Johnson was willing to trade just about everyone but LeBron in order to pry Anthony Davis from the Pelicans, the Lakers were a mess. LeBron was pictured sitting completely separate from the rest of his teammates on the bench, signifying the every-increasing void between them. It is obvious that Johnson’s desperate offer to New Orleans were simply creating a rift within his young but talented team, and as an organization they did nothing to stop it. LeBron James did not help by publicly criticizing his teammates, and announcing that he is the greatest of all time. Whether you believe that the Lakers this season were a product of injuries, or simply a mismanaged organization, it is evident that Magic Johnson and the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. have some work to do this summer if LeBron James wants to make the playoffs again, let alone add another ring to his collection.