Despite hovering around the .500 mark almost all season, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly remain a team that has one Western Conference executive seemingly scared of possibly facing them in the playoffs.
“I don’t want any piece of them in the playoffs,” the Western Conference executive told ESPN.
The Lakers have a 28-26 record and are in ninth place in the conference entering play Monday. Last season, they were 25-30 after 55 games but rallied to make the play-in round and ultimately reached the 2023 Western Conference Finals. Though they were swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets, the ascension from a mediocre team to a conference finalist was very impressive.
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis still among the best players in the league, there is no reason to believe the Lakers can’t do it again. They showed what they are capable of in a competitive environment when they won the NBA Cup as champions of the first In-Season Tournament back in December. James, in his 21st NBA season, was named the competition’s first MVP.
They also have won four of their past five games, including impressive road victories against the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks to start this month. They are coming off a 17-point win against the New Orleans Pelicans heading into their matchup against the lowly Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.
Despite that early-season and more recent success, not everyone believes the Lakers are legitimate contenders. In fact, Kevin Garnett recently said that anyone who thinks that is “f—— delusional.”
Though the Lakers were not able to pull off a big deal at the NBA trade deadline last week, they added veteran Spencer Dinwiddie to the team. The 30-year-old was traded by the Brooklyn Nets to the Toronto Raptors and then agreed to a buyout to become a free agent.
Dinwiddie is averaging 12.6 points and 6.0 assists per game this season, his 10th in the NBA. The Los Angeles native is expected to add depth to the backcourt and bring some valuable playoff experience. Whether his acquisition is enough to keep the Lakers in postseason contention — or perhaps even push them all the way into the 2024 NBA Finals — remains to be seen.