The Los Angeles Lakers have fallen out of the postseason race, and are arguably the NBA’s least watchable team the remainder of the season.
The 2018-19 season has essentially come and gone for the Los Angeles Lakers. They have been riddled with injuries all season as their best players have missed extended periods of time, and now are on the brink of officially being eliminated from the playoffs. Not only have their postseason dreams vanished instantly, but they are now among the worst watches in the entire NBA.
There was an argument to made before the season started the Lakers were one of the 2-3 most exciting and intriguing League Pass teams. They’re always on national television due to the glamour and prestige that is associated with this franchise, but adding LeBron James and a cast of characters to a talented core were factors that vaulted the Lakers to the top of national TV appearances.
Fast forward to the present and this Lakers team is a far cry from the version that warranted 43 national televised games. Yes, injuries derailed the season, but the roster moves made by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have made this team a dread to watch in the homestretch of the season.
For starters, two of their three best players in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram haven’t played since Jan. 21 and March 4, respectively, and were ruled out for the season. LeBron hasn’t recovered fully from his groin strain that caused him to miss 17 games, and has been in and out of the lineup for “load management” to resting his sore left groin.
With LeBron alternating on how often he plays, the Lakers are equipped with one of the worst rotations in the NBA. For example, on March 19 against the Milwaukee Bucks in a 115-101 loss, head coach Luke Walton trotted out a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Reggie Bullock, Mike Muscala, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee. Off the bench came Alex Caruso, Moritz Wagner, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart, or the South Bay Lakers.
Are there some solid role players in the mix? Yes. Are the Lakers even trying to win? Who knows. But that rotation doesn’t provide anything that forces you to run to the TV and watch them compete.
Throughout the NBA, teams are handing the reins to their young players in the hopes of them gaining valuable experience in extended minutes of professional basketball. At least these teams, like the Atlanta Hawks with Trae Young or Phoenix Suns with Devin Booker the last few years, have young talent worth watching. The Lakers? Not so much.
Even look around the teams with worse records than the Lakers and there are some aspects that are attractive. LeBron’s old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, has Collin Sexton, who’s played very well as of late, averaging 22.6 points per game over his last 10 games. The New York Knicks have Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith Jr. The Chicago Bulls boast Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine.
The New Orleans Pelicans have been awkward since Anthony Davis’ public trade request, but Elfrid Payton’s recent run of triple-double history is more exciting than watching Rajon Rondo pound the ball every offensive possession.
When LeBron plays, the Lakers jump ahead of a couple teams listed, but who knows how much he’ll play for the remainder of the season? The Lakers are the rare combination of having no reason to win and no young players to hand minutes off to.
They’re 1-9 over their last 10 games, starting a frontcourt of Mike Muscala, Kuzma and JaVale McGee with Rondo running the show. Kuz is awesome, but he’s playing terribly since returning from a sprained right ankle suffered on March 4.
This Los Angeles Lakers team was a joy to watch out of the gates with the freshness of LeBron’s arrival revitalizing the franchise and hoping to recreate the Showtime era of the 1980s. Unfortunately, the season will end with them being one of the worst rosters and teams to watch in the NBA.
Once again, the Los Angeles Lakers’ lone hope is swaying free agents to sign with them and trade their young players for proven stars. Until the summer, they will be near the bottom of teams to watch the rest of the season.