The Lakers You have a tough job to qualify for the postseason in a stacked Western Conference. While the biggest problem identified by most observers is the lack of talent relative to other teams this side of the Mississippi, LeBron James settled on another issue: continuity or lack of it.
The Lakers brought back only six players from last year’s roster, one of whom had not played a minute and the other who did not join the team until March. Only three 2020-21 Lakers remain, and the third of them – Dennis Schroeder – has spent the intervening year outside Los Angeles.
“I like the way our team has been built, but we have to keep working because a lot of the Western Conference teams, a lot of the NBA teams right now, they’ve been together for two years, a few years. And we haven’t. So we can’t have a chance not to Getting better day by day We always have to understand how important each day is.
“You look at the best teams in the West, they’ve got Clippers, they’ve got Phoenix, they’ve got Denver, and that’s just to name a few of the teams that will come out and be ready to go straight off the jump because of the chemistry they’ve had for a long time now. We’re one of the teams that You must continue to learn quickly and not waste a day.”
“I like the way our team has been built, but we have to keep working.” LeBron James shares his pre-season snippets. pic.twitter.com/CqstUeN6Xy
– Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) October 15 2022
Now, objectively speaking, James is right. The Clippers brought all but one player back from last year’s rotation and still have nine members of the team that advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2021. The Phoenix core of Devin Booker, Dendry Eaton and Michael Bridges have been together since 2018, and even Chris is entering Paul’s third year with the team. In Denver, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have played together since 2016.
Meanwhile, James has just started in pre-season alongside two goalkeepers with whom he has never played a regular season game and a position with whom he has been a teammate in all seven games. Reaching his second straight season with purple and gold, Austin Reeves has practically entered BFF status with LeBron.
But James ignores an important piece of context when acknowledging his team’s loss of continuity: He pushed the Lakers to swap three players for rotation with Anthony Davis in 2019, then three more with Russell Westbrook in 2021. An aging, crumbling, roster last season and, honestly, better The Lakers would be without the majority of these players.
So, yes, the Lakers trail the majority of the contenders in the Western Conference by a large margin in terms of continuity, but that didn’t just happen by accident. Decisions that James himself had big helped create this situation, and now he’ll have to carry a largely new group of teammates through the early part of the season.
The good news is that the Lakers only had six returning players in 2019-20 (and a new coach, for whatever it’s worth), and all went well that year. The team had a surprisingly flexible schedule to start this season, with the new roster building for chemistry. This time, the Lakers have a killer row of opponents to start the year, so Players will have to adhere to an important Darvin principle of ‘wisdom and lessons’ If the “gains and losses” ledger weren’t so pretty.
All of this means the Lakers can’t waste time. No matter how they ended up with a shiny new slate for the second year in a row, that’s their destiny, and the only way to catch up with the rest of the West is to get better every day, whether it’s practical, I walk through or the actual games. It appears that the Lakers failed to hit that target during the end of pre-season. They can’t afford it once games really matter.