Just in case you haven’t noticed, the Los Angeles Lakers, yes folks, the same team which endured its worst season in franchise’s history, and the same team which lost its undisputed leader to retirement last season, is currently enjoying a little bit of success early on in the year. Yep, you read it right, NBA fans. The Lakers, in case you haven’t noticed, have won their 10th game of the season at the expense of the Chicago Bulls, a team comprised of Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo. And if we look back at last season, the Lakers needed to wait until February 2016 just to reach win number 10. Reaching win number 10 this year came faster so what changed for the once-mighty franchise?
Personally, I think we can all attribute the Lakers’ surprising success to the lack of a consistent superstar, one Kobe Bryant used to be for the Lakers during his 20-year tenure with the Purple and Gold. Why? Under head coach Luke Walton, their offense is spread out more and allows more players to contribute. When Kobe hanged his jersey for good, a lot of people were talking about either Jordan Clarkson or even D’Angelo Russell taking over the leadership role. Currently, it’s Lou Williams who has been leading the way for the Lakers (so far).
Although we cannot simply remove the young core of Clarkson, Russell, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram, it’s Williams’ vast experience and his 16 points a game that is doing wonders for this young team. In addition, the lack of a superstar on the team allows coach Luke Walton to empty his bench whether his team is winning or not. Why? Well, the team has Nick Young who is unfortunately out due to injury, and although he did commit a travel on the last play against the Oklahoma City Thunder back in November, its hard to argue against the fact that he nailed the game winning shot. Luol Deng is another asset whom we know can score and defend, and given some decent playing time Tarik Black has the talent to score and even block shots for the Lakers.
Are the Lakers playoff bound? Quite Possibly, but why just possibly? The Lakers stand at 10-10, good for number 9 in the Western Conference. If they could just increase their level of consistency on both sides of the court, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they snatch the number 8 or even number 7 seed come playoff time. Like it or not, love them or hate them, we can all agree on one thing –this young team is already due for a return to the postseason, a feat they haven’t achieved in a long, long time.
So just in case many of you haven’t noticed yet, yes, the Lakers are winning games. Not just small games, folks. They beat the Golden State Warriors early on the season before the Warriors literally destroyed them twice. It’s never about who’s leading them or who’s coaching them. The Lakers may be a young team but they are no longer the same team almost everybody could beat last season. Love them or hate them, the Lakers will be a surprising team to watch out for this season and beyond, and the rest of the NBA should be very, very careful.