The Lakers are led by NBA great LeBron James and superstar Anthony Davis, they have wrapped up the number one seed in the Western Conference so all should be good, right? Well, not exactly, the Lakers offensive woes inside the NBA bubble continued on Wednesday night, the Lakers were demolished by the surprise Oklahoma City Thunder 105-86. The Lakers fall to 2-2 since the NBA restarted and are now averaging just 98 PPG inside the bubble, this figure is alarming because of the Lakers ability to score the basketball prior to the NBA restarting.
I will give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt, they are playing without Avery Bradley who was a key piece to their offense, he opted out upon restart. Perhaps, the Lakers need some time to gel together offensively and by bringing in Dion Waiters and JR Smith, the Lakers are now trying to find a new flow with guys that are used to scoring in bunches. In addition to Bradley they have been without Dwight Howard, who is expected to return against the Rockets tonight on TNT. More good news for the Lake Show is that Rajon Rondo is expected to make his way to the bubble to finish up rehab and be ready for sometime during the playoff portion of this restart. If the Lakers are able to return two of their prominent players in time for the playoffs then all could be well and good.
I have a theory, the Lakers need to be concerned about playing the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. Memphis is in absolute free-fall and the Blazers are playing incredible basketball. I am not convinced that the Blazers can beat LA but they can give them a good 6-7 game series in the opening round of what should normally be a clean Lakers sweep and onto the conference semi-finals. Portland would be a nightmare matchup for the Lakers in round one.
The Lakers need an immediate starting lineup shakeup. When Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is in the Lakers starting lineup this season they have a net rating of MINUS 29.7 as opposed to when Bradley was in the starting lineup they had a net rating of +12.6; a drastic difference.
I think you might see Head Coach Frank Vogel make the move against the Rockets to insert Dion Waiters along with LeBron, Kuzma, Davis and McGee. A much needed shakeup that might spark the Lakers offense and let Caldwell-Pope come off the bench and return to what made him successful early on in the NBA season. They could also play quicker and smaller and go with Alex Caruso at the point and have Kuzma and LeBron at the two and three and Davis and McGee at the four and five. The Lakers have a ton of depth, so they have a variety of options to change things and give it a real chance before the NBA restart is complete and we move towards the playoffs, they have four games remaining to figure out the right formula.
Whatever the Lakers are going to do, in my opinion they need to do it fast, with the current version of hoops they have been showcasing, I don’t believe it will be a deep playoff run for them, the NBA has so many fly under the radar teams that are playing phenomenal basketball. The outlier is that the Lakers have LeBron, a man who has willed his teams to NBA finals appearances in the past, he has dragged dead bodies dressed in basketball uniforms to the NBA finals so as much as I can’t stand him, if anyone can do it, LeBron would be the guy.