With the Los Angeles Lakers off to an 11-9 start to the season and several key players missing time due to injuries, fans and analysts aren’t the only ones trying to figure out just how good the Los Angeles Lakers really are.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s 133-110 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James publicly admitted that he doesn’t yet know what this Lakers team is capable of.
“I don’t know what we are,” James said. “How? We don’t have a group yet. I know what some of us are like individually, but as a team, we don’t have our group yet. I don’t know.”
The good news for Los Angeles is that James and Anthony Davis can stay healthy like this. Both missed just one of the team’s first 20 games. D’Angelo Russell, Christian Wood and Austin Reaves have played in every game.
Everyone else on the roster has missed at least two games. Jackson Hayes missed the game against the Thunder with a wrist injury. Cam Reddish has missed four of the past five games with a groin issue. Hachimura has not played since Nov. 22 due to a broken nose that required surgery.
While the Lakers’ record is generally good, their path has left many frustrated when trying to figure out whether they are good, bad, or mediocre.
They went 4-0 in the group stages of the in-season tournament, but three of those four wins came against the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz. The three teams have a combined record of 16 wins and 38 losses.
The Lakers’ last five games have alternated between wins and losses. Their wins came against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons. Lost to the Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers.
Los Angeles is +19.2 points per 100 possessions with James on the floor and has a projected win total of +42. When he’s not on the court, the team completely falls apart.
This is an issue that general manager Rob Pelinka and the front office have been trying to solve for years. At least 20 games into the season, they don’t seem to have an answer yet.
The Lakers will look to get back on track when they take on the Houston Rockets on Saturday at 10:30 pm ET at Crypto.com Arena.