The Los Angeles Lakers are proving themselves to be a juggernaut in the NBA. After their win against James Harden and Russell Westbrook’s Houston Rockets, the Lakers now boast the best record in the Western Conference. At 34-8, they command the number one seed in the West.
Perhaps the most impressive fact is they are capable of beating almost anyone. The team now hold a 12-7 record against teams that are above 50% wins. That’s an NBA leading stat, reinforcing the belief that the Lakers have now returned to the stardom associated with the franchise.
There was an air of inevitability when the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James in 2018. That fizzled out over a tumultuous season, with on-court and off-court drama. It culminated with Magic Johnson resigning from the organization and leading to massive coaching and player changes.
This season, the Lakers went all-in, getting in Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. In addition, the team made smarter personnel decisions. Frank Vogel and Jason Kidd were hired as coaches. Furthermore, they added in good supporting players such as Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard.
The roster now has defensive and offensive grit that’s propelling them to the top of the NBA. They rank 1st in the NBA in field-goal percentage and blocks per game. The Lakers are 5th in Assists per game, 6th in scoring and 4th in opponents points per game.
It’s not surprising that the Lakers are favourites for the Western Conference Championship and the NBA title.
With a 12-7 record, the Lakers have won 63% of their games against top teams. However, other teams possess similar records against top-tiered teams as well. The Milwaukee possess a 10-5 (66% win rate) and the Miami Heat boast an 11-6 (64% win rate) against similar calibre opposition.
The Lakers have had their share of issues. The team endured a 4 game losing streak, including sound defeats against the Bucks and Indiana Pacers. They are yet to beat their main Western Conference Rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers. Their city neighbours have beaten them twice this season.
There’s however room for optimism. Of late, Anthony Davis has not been available to play. In that space, they have beaten playoff positioned teams of Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. Today they won against arguably the most dominant back-court of Harden and Westbrook in a routine win against the Houston Rockets.
The team may still be looking to upgrade their roster before the trade window closes. Kyle Kuzma has been shopped around the league, but even with him as their 3rd main scorer, the team is still formidable. He’s been making a case for him to remain in the roster of late. With such performances, he’s certainly likely to be retained for this season.
Once the team is locked past the trade deadline, the Lakers will work on improving their unit cohesion. The team still have a challenging second half of the season, with 12 games against teams currently with winning records. It will include their duels with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and the Clippers.
Davis and Rajon Rondo are due to return shortly. This should bring the Lakers back up to strength.
What’s clear is that this season, the Los Angeles Lakers are the Western Conference’s’ top team. Their record against top tier opposition, as well as any other team, is proof enough. This team is certainly built for a deep playoff run.
Will the Lakers end their decade long wait for the NBA title this season?
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