3 Surprising reasons why the Lakers can still make the playoffs

LeBron James, Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James, Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3

This season has been an adventure for the Los Angeles Lakers. It appears to be a cycle, with some semblance of hope followed by a sudden downward shift, whether due to injuries or bad luck in the outcome of their games.

But look, after what the Lakers have dealt with so far, they’re still in the thick of things for the race in the playoffs. The team currently has a 25-28 record, good for 12th in the West. Don’t get fooled, though, as the Lakers are just a game behind the last play-in spot and two and a half games behind the sixth seed.

With 29 more games left in their schedule, let’s check out what the Lakers have done, the good and the bad, and what they can possibly improve on as the trade deadline looms.

LeBron is still good at basketball.

Already in Year 20, there is still no stopping the greatness of LeBron James. Since turning 38, he has averaged 33.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game. To be honest, these are some ridiculous figures.

One downside for James could be his outside shooting, which is only at 31%—the lowest since the 2015-16 season. But as intelligent as a basketball player can be, his drives are up compared to last season, from 8.7 to 9.9 drives per game, and he is shooting a career-best 79.9% at the rim.
LeBron James continues to play at an All-NBA level.

That’s why you can’t blame him for asking to have a better squad because James remains that guy. But a case could be made that having a healthy squad might just be the answer to what the four-time MVP desires.

The Lakers have fielded the most diverse starting lineup in the league so far. Anthony Davis has only played 29 games this season, dealing with various injuries. Rotation players like Lonnie Walker IV just came back after recovering from a knee injury, and Austin Reaves remains out due to a hamstring injury.

So assuming everyone is available for the Lakers, a projected lineup of Russ, Reaves, James, Hachimura, and Davis could be the most feasible closing crew that Darvin Ham might have in mind.

Why? This four-man combination (excluding Hachimura) has been exemplary, with a whopping 11.6 points per 100 possessions in 122 minutes played, per Basketball Reference. It’s exciting to see what it looks like with Rui in it, and James must be the most excited one.