The Los Angeles Lakers continue to sink to the bottom of the Western Conference standings and drift further and further away from a playoff berth. Following a 110-100 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, the Lakers now host a modest record of 16-31. They are 0.5 games ahead of the Sacramento Kings for last place in the Western Conference.
The loss to the Bobcats was the sixth straight loss for the Lakers and they have only won three games in their last 21 outings. The 110-100 defeat marked the 14th consecutive game that the Lakers had given up 100 points. That is the franchise’s longest such streak since the 1986-1987 season. The star-driven Lakers were out-shined by Bobcats forward Al Jefferson, who poured in 40 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
With the Lakers currently 10.5 games behind the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth and final playoff spot, it is unlikely that they will make the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers franchise was born in 1947 under the name of the Minneapolis Lakers. If the Lakers do not make the playoffs this year, it will be only the sixth time in the franchise’s history that the team did not move on to the postseason.
The Lakers have been decimated by injuries this season, especially in their back court. Their current list of injured players includes: Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant. Bryant returned from a torn Achilles in the middle of season, only to play six games before injuring his knee and returning to the sidelines. Steve Nash equaled Bryant’s six games played before tweaking his hamstring and back. Nash, who will turn 40 this month, is the oldest active player in the league.
Perhaps the best course of action for the Lakers this season is to sink to the very bottom of the Western Conference standings in hopes of earning a higher pick in this year’s draft lottery. This seems to be the strategy of several teams in the NBA this season, as the 2014 draft class is expected to be one of the deepest pools of talent in recent memory. The last time the Lakers had a draft pick in the lottery was in 2005, when they selected Andrew Bynum right out of high school with the 10th overall pick. Bynum would play a key role in the Lakers championship runs in 2009 and 2010.
It is speculated that the 2014 draft class will include nearly a dozen players that would be regarded as top five picks in previous years drafts. Some highly contested candidates include Kansas Jayhawk’s center Joel Embiid and small forward Andrew Wiggins. Other projected lottery picks consist of Duke’s Jabari Parker, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and the young phenom from down under, Dante Exum.
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the NBA. They have 16 NBA championships in their history, which is 2nd only to the Boston Celtics, who have 17 titles. The Lakers will look to return to the upper echelons of the NBA in the next few years through any means necessary. They may take the glamorous approach of free agency, as they did in the past by signing league MVP’s in Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. Or perhaps they will utilize the strategic process of the draft, which they did in selecting Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant.
The Los Angeles Lakers hope for a playoff berth in the Western Conference but may be sunken for this season. Either way look for the Lakers to rise back up to the top in the near future, they always do.
By Eric Kummel