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Los Angeles Lakers: End Of Season Report

Los Angeles Lakers


Coming into the NBA season, not much was expected from the Los Angeles Lakers. Many media experts had them missing the playoffs or barely making the play-in. The roster was full of misfits and non-shooters. People questioned why LeBron James even signed a 2-year extension and put faith in a franchise that just missed the playoffs in the previous season.

The Lakers were still dealing with the Russell Westbrook dilemma after it was made known publicly the team was actively trying to move him. LA had an offer from the Indiana Pacers that included Buddy Hield and Myles Turner which would’ve required 2 first round picks. Lakers ultimately decided that price was too steep and rolled into the season with Westbrook.

It was an extremely bumpy start for the Lakers. They started the season 2-10 and were given a 0.3% chance by analytics to make the playoffs. Lakers coach Darvin Ham decided to have Westbrook come off the bench to shake things up as his fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis continued to be an issue.

Anthony Davis suffered a right foot injury on December 16, 2022 that forced him to miss 20 games. That required LeBron James in his 20th NBA season to keep the team was already extremely flawed afloat.

This season was a milestone year for James as he surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. However, the Lakers found themselves 25-30 and in the 13th seed before the NBA trade deadline.

The NBA trade deadline saved the Lakers season. The team acquired D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley in a 3-team trade including the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz. Mo Bamba was acquired in a separate trade the same day. The team also acquired Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards a few weeks prior.

Following these trades, the team gelled almost immediately. With Westbrook’s departure, this also allowed second year guard Austin Reaves to blossom and have more ball handling responsibility. The team went 18-8 after the trades were made despite James missing 4 weeks with a torn tendon in his right foot.

The Lakers finished the season 43-39, winning 9 of their last 11 games to grab the 7th seed. They defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in game, matching them up with 2nd seed Memphis Grizzlies in the 1st round.

They went on to beat the Grizzlies in 6 to get a 2nd round matchup with the Golden State Warriors. Despite being underdogs, the Lakers knocked off the defending champions in 6 games as well.

A conference finals rematch from the 2020 NBA playoffs in the bubble would see the Lakers ultimately get swept by the Denver Nuggets.

Despite a promising postseason run, there will be many questions heading into this offseason.

Offense: B

The Lakers were 6th in points per game despite having the 20th best offensive rating (114.5). The team was also 10th in field goal percentage (48.2%). The three-point shooting was not the team’s strength was they were ranked 24th (34.6%), even with the improvement in that area since the trade deadline with the addition of D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. The superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were able to put up points on the board with the ability to draw fouls and get to the free throw line.

Defense: A+

Once the deadline trades were made, the Lakers became an elite defensive team. They were ranked 11th in defensive rating for the season (113.9) but in the last 26 games, the Lakers were ranked 3rd in defensive rating (112.3). The pairing of Anthony Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt proved to be an elite defensive tandem with a lot of athleticism and length. Dennis Schroder, who played in a lot of big games for the Lakers, showed a lot of grit on the side of the ball as well, often picking up full court.

Final Grade: A-

While the Lakers didn’t win the championship and got swept by the eventual champion Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals,  they accomplished a lot considering where they were earlier in the season. If you would’ve told anybody that the Lakers would’ve been in the conference finals when they we’re the 13th seed in February, many people would’ve thought you were insane.

This is the type of season the Lakers can build on going forward into next season with a full training camp. Obviously, a lot of questions will be asked on who to bring back given they were swept by the Denver Nuggets, but I think they should run it back.

Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves are restricted free agents this summer. Rob Pelinka stated publicly that the front office wants to prioritize continuity and bring their core back.

D’Angelo Russell, who is an unrestricted free agent, has become a polarizing player with the Lakers since his first tenure with the team. Russell struggled mildly against the Denver Nuggets and was arguably unplayable in that series. However, people can be prisoners of the moment and ignore what he did for the team previously.

The truth is, the Lakers don’t make it to the conference finals without DLo. He had big moments in the regular season to get them in the playoffs and moments against the Grizzlies (including a 31-point game in Game 6) and against the Warriors. If the team chooses to bring him back, you hope this was a great learning experience for him and he can bounce back next season.

LeBron James hinted at retirement after the season, but many expect him to return for his 21st season next year. James will be 39 on December 30th.

Anthony Davis coming off his best season in years and will look to build on what was a promising year for him going forward.

If this core remains intact and has a full training camp along with a few tweaks on the roster, the Lakers can find themselves back in the mix for a championship next year.


Aaron Parker is a contributor for Back Sports Page as a basketball writer. Growing up in Los Angeles, Aaron became a hardcore Los Angeles Lakers fan. He writes content on the Lakers as well as the Clippers. Other than his passion for basketball, Aaron is also a huge NFL and boxing fan. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @AirParker24

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