Since LeBron James was sidelined due to a groin injury, the Los Angeles Lakers’ form, and consequently their playoff hopes have taken a nosedive. James has now returned to the fold, but as of yet his comeback hasn’t had enough of an impact to spark a resurgence towards the playoff spots. The team is now 3-6 with LBJ back in the starting line-up, and 4-10 overall in their last fourteen.
James has started to be more vocal, citing a comfort with losing from the young teammates he was all too eager to see traded away in pursuit of Anthony Davis.
After Monday night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, James went in on his teammates again by stating that the Lakers are the wrong franchise to play for if you’re bothered by distractions or the pressure of a playoff push.
James’ public call outs upon his team have been highlighted recently, although what is being overlooked is the Lakers’ fading playoffs hopes.
According to Basketball Reference’s updated Playoff Probabilities Report (heading into action on Tuesday, Feb. 26), the Lakers have just a 2.9 percent chance to make the playoffs as they sit 11th in the Western Conference. On the flipside, their chance to win the draft lottery now sits at 2.0 percent.
Basketball Reference’s fresh simulation of the lottery, gives the Lakers a 2.6 percent chance at the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks and a 2.5 percent chance at No. 4. So in total, they’ve got a better chance at a top-3 pick right now (7.2 percent) than to make the playoffs.
James has not missed the playoffs since his second NBA season (2004-2005), and barring a dramatic turnaround, it seems all but certain that it’s going to happen again for the 4-time league MVP. If the Lakers are to have any hope of making the cut, there needs to be serious improvements on the defensive end of the floor, where James himself is being exposed for his lackluster efforts.
All in all, it seems there could be an anticlimatic end to the Lakers' season with their hopes now shifting from playoff place holders, to recipients of a favourable pick in June's draft.