What Happened to the Los Angeles Lakers?

Elijah Weston-Capulong, Sports Editor

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After signing Lebron James on free-agency last summer, and building a core group of young and experienced players, the LA Lakers looked poised to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season, where they lost 4-0 in the first round to the San Antonio Spurs.

Now, the Lakers are currently sitting in the 10th spot in the Western Conference, eliminated from playoff contention. So, the question being asked by every NBA fan today is What Happened to the Los Angeles Lakers?

The Lakers started the season with an 18-12 record after 30 games, respectable but not yet outstanding, as Lebron and company struggled to get on their feet. The Lakers lost their first 3 games, arguably, because of their defense. They conceded 126.7 points per outing. This subpar defense became a core problem for the Lakers throughout the season as they are currently ranked 25th in ppg allowed. This defensive slump for the Lakers can be partly attributed to Lonzo Ball’s absence. Last season, Lonzo Ball may have not lived up to the hype offensively, but what he did show NBA fans, is his defensive ability and potential to be an elite defensive guard. But, Ball, unfortunately suffered an ankle injury on January 19th, when the Lakers were 25-22, against the Rockets and is expected to be sidelined for the rest to the season. After Lonzo’s injury, the Lakers allowed 122.6 ppg in the first half of February, a number similar to that during the first few games of the season, where they still haven’t figured out how to work together defensively. Even if, Ball’s absence is no excuse for a team who has the best player in the world surrounded by a group of both young and experienced talent. But, an injury to Lebron James on Christmas day against the Warriors saw the Lakers go 7-13 to go from a 20-14 record, to an even 27-27.

Lets not forget that Ball’s injury came around at about the same time as the “Anthony Davis Drama.” After the news broke that Anthony Davis was becoming unhappy with the Pelicans and requested a trade, the Lebron-lead Lakers jumped at the deal, with Lebron saying “of course” when asked if he would like to play with the Pelicans star. So the drama ensued, almost two weeks negotiations and trades turned down by the Pelicans, which included their entire core group of young players (Kuzma, Ball, and Ingram), culminating in an anti-climactic no-deal situation which saw Davis stay at the Pelicans for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. This uneventful ending to a set of negotiations that were publicized with striking accuracy and detail, led many to believe that the Pelicans, from the beginning, had no intention of trading Anthony Davis. New Orleans just wanted to destabilize a growingly successful Lakers franchise. Whether this is true, we don’t, and probably will never know. But, if it is, whatever plan the Pelicans devised is going perfectly according to plan, as the Lakers have almost certainly missed out on the Playoffs for the 6th straight season.

Now, the Lakers find themselves with an extremely similar record as last season, 37-45, giving them a 9% chance at a top-four pick and are guaranteed a good pick even if. But, as Lebron James approaches 35, next season will prove to be a challenge for the entire Lakers organization.