After a promising start to the season, the Lakers are now in a tie for the second-worst record in the NBA, as our 2016/17 NBA Reverse Standings show. While there was some optimism in Los Angeles in the fall that the team could compete for a playoff spot this season, the Lakers have lost 22 of 28 games since the start of December, effectively taking them out of the running.
As Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider-only link) details, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle have slowed down after hot starts, and it’s not clear whether either of those players – or Brandon Ingram – is a future star. If there’s no future star currently on the roster, the Lakers may have to hope they can keep their 2017 first-round pick (top-three protected) and land a player that fits that bill in the lottery. As Pelton observes, the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it less likely that a top player will change teams in free agency, so the draft looks like L.A.’s best bet to land an impact player.
Let’s round up a few more Lakers notes…
- With Kobe Bryant no longer on the roster, the Lakers are lacking a definitive leader, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Times. “We don’t have a guy who’s naturally that person for us, so it needs to come from multiple people,” said head coach Luke Walton.
- In the post-Kobe era, David Aldridge of NBA.com takes an interesting and in-depth look at the Lakers’ current situation, including Jeanie Buss‘ views on the franchise.
- The Los Angeles D-Fenders are being rebranded as the South Bay Lakers at the conclusion of the 2016/17 D-League season, the team announced this week in a press release. “This is an opportunity to leverage the iconic Lakers brand, celebrate our amazing community and emphasize our franchise’s accomplishments over the last 10 years while we continue to compete for an NBA D-League championship,” said Joey Buss, the president and CEO of the Lakers’ D-League affiliate.