Win More Blog
Will Lakers make playoffs?
Will the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs? That depends on another question… will the Lakers trade Dwight Howard? The Lakers are in turmoil and if they cannot put together a quick winning streak, they’ll be forced to abandon the season and trade the disgruntled Howard.
Midway through the season, the Lakers are on pace to finish 8 games below .500 or 37-45 overall. They’re still technically on the playoff bubble, but floundering. The Lakers are 11th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference. According to Hollinger’s power ratings, the Lakers only have an 18% chance to make the playoffs.
The Lakers need anywhere from 41 to 43 wins to guarantee at least a #8 seed. The Lakers only won 17 games in the first half of the season, which means they must go 25-15 or win at least 62% of their games in the second half to have a chance at the postseason. The bad news is the Lakers play at least 17 games against winning teams and they only win 32% of their games against teams with a winning record.
The preseason general consensus was that the Lakers (after adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash) would be fighting the Oklahoma City Thunder for the #1 seed and supremacy in the Western Conference. Instead, the Lakers bombed like an over-hyped Hollywood movie with a pretty face, but a bad script and lots of stuff blowing up. The Lakers have become a bloated, drug-addled, washed-up starlet who has had one too many botched plastic surgeries. The once- mighty Lakers have fallen into the same category as the bottom feeders in the Western Conference: the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, and New Orleans Hornets.
The Lakers got off to a sluggish start and the wheels immediately fell off the bus when head coach Mike Brown was sacked ten games into the season. Although Brown’s dismissal was a shocker, the only thing more surprising was the hiring of Mike D’Antoni over former coach Phil Jackson. Everyone thought the Zen master Phil Jackson would return to bring harmony back to the Lakers’ universe. Jackson had all but agreed to a deal, but the Lakers abruptly hired D’Antoni instead.
D’Antoni is regarded as an offensive genius, but he was run out of New York because the star players (e.g. Carmelo Anthony) didn’t thrive in his stifling system. D’Antoni tried to foist his offensive philosophy on the Lakers, but they lack the personnel to efficiently implement his game plan. On offense, the Lakers struggle to find anyone other than Kobe Bryant or Metta World Peace to score consistently, while the rest of the team can’t seem to figure out proper spacing in D’Antoni’s high pick-and-roll spread offense. The Lakers’ woes are on both ends of the court. Their atrocious defense gives up 101.4 points per game or 21st overall in the NBA. The Lakers are equally inept in transition D and half-court D, and constantly have to hide their liabilities like Kobe’s laziness or Nash’s old age.
Pau Gasol was the go-to guy in the post for several years, but he’s hung out to dry on the perimeter in the new offense. Let’s face it, you’re not going to win an NBA championship with journeyman Earl Clark getting crunch-time minutes over Pau Gasol, but Clark fits better into D’Antoni’s offense so Pau is the odd man out. That is one of the most glaring problems with D’Antoni’s philosophy and Lakers fans are up in arms over D’Antoni’s stubbornness.
Kobe is having a sensational season (29.2 PPG, 23.44 PER) but the Lakers’ thin bench lacks depth. They really could use a big gun to come off the bench and help Kobe shoulder the scoring load. The Lakers have also battled injuries all season. Nash missed the first quarter of the year with a fractured leg, Gasol missed a few games with tendonitis in his knees, and Howard is still not 100% after back surgery. Howard’s immobility and lack of an intimidating presence inside is one of the many reasons why opposing teams seem to score at will against the Lakers.
If the Lakers trade Dwight Howard, then you can kiss their playoff aspirations goodbye. Dwight Howard’s future is a huge question mark. Howard’s first season in Los Angeles has been both mentally and physically challenging and he’s not happy having to overcome obstacles like Kobe’s mega-ego, D’Antoni’s offense, and his body not healing faster than he wanted. If Howard doesn’t want to remain in Los Angeles, the Lakers have to dump him before the trade deadline, otherwise he walks at the end of the season as an unrestricted free agent and they get nothing in return. The Lakers’ management stands at a crossroads. Do they cut their losses and trade Howard for anything they can get? Or do they shrug off the first half of the season, hunker down, fight for the #8 seed, and then hope they’ve clicked as a team by the time the playoffs roll around?
If the Lakers keep Howard, they still face internal issues including recurring injuries and a porous defense. The Lakers are a terrible road team (they win only 25% of their away games) which makes it difficult to pick up ground against premier teams in the West. The Lakers are one of the oldest teams in the league and are desperately trying to end a horrible skid, but they’ll have to fend off Portland and Houston if they want to make the playoffs. Both Houston (in #8 spot) and Portland (in #9 spot) are on a mission to transform themselves from a below-average team to a playoff contender. Even if the Lakers get back on track, they still have to hope both Houston and Portland falter late in the season.
Will the Lakers make the playoffs? If they trade Howard, then definitely not. If they keep Howard, the Lakers still have a huge mountain to climb and they don’t have enough Sherpa’s to carry all their baggage.
View the latest odds on the Lakers to make the playoffs here