Los Angeles Lakers player Julius Randle drives to the hoop against the Mavericks during a recent NBA game.

Can The Lakers Still Make the NBA Playoffs?

The Los Angeles Lakers are 15 games under the 0.500 mark for the season after playing in 45 games of an 82-game NBA season. They are 13th in the Western Conference and are four games back of the eighth-place Portland Trail Blazers in standings. The question is this: Do the Lakers still have a chance to make the NBA playoffs?

The Lakers last qualified for the NBA Playoffs during the 2012-13 season, where they were swept in four games by the San Antonio Spurs. The last NBA playoff win for the Lakers came during the 2011-12 Western Conference Finals, losing 4-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in that series.

Since their last playoff win, the Lakers aren’t just 0-6, but they are also in danger of missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Although they are four games behind the Blazers in the standings, there are still four other teams ahead of the Lakers too. The Lakers have lost four straight games, and during that losing streak, one of the losses came against the Blazers. Two of the other losses came against the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs, both of which are also ahead of them in the standings.

One excuse the Lakers aren’t using or don’t want used is their youth. The Lakers have a roster packed full of young, talented players who are still learning the NBA game but also have a long way to go before being a true contender in the Western Conference once again.

Take, for instance, a Los Angeles Times article by Tania Ganguli that quoted veteran Lakers player Lou Williams about having a “young team.”

“I don’t want to keep using the young team thing. At some point we gotta show growth collectively as a group. Obviously we do have young guys and we’re depending on some young guys that’s learning on the fly…”

It is tough not to agree with Williams’ assessment of the Lakers roster and how they need their young players to start playing at a better level in the NBA. Williams leads the Lakers in scoring at 17.6 points per game, and right behind his is the potential “future of the franchise,” second-year player D’Angelo Russell at 15.1 ppg. Russell also leads the Lakers with 4.6 assists per game and 1.3 steals per game. Russell was second overall in the 2015 NBA Draft for a reason, and that was to become a Lakers point guard who could lead them back to the NBA Playoffs.

Can that happen this season? It is still most likely doubtful for the Lakers to make the playoffs, but it still isn’t off the table for that to occur either. For it to have a chance of happening, the Lakers must stop this four-game losing streak right now and start quickly stringing together wins.

Their next game is Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets, a team that is ahead of them in ninth place in the Western Conference standings with 16 wins and 23 losses. This is a winnable game for the Lakers, but they need to start proving that on the court and gain winning results.

Again, it will be tough for the Lakers to make the NBA Playoffs at their current level of play, but stranger things have happened during an NBA season. The core of this roster will eventually make the playoffs if they all stay together. If the playoffs seem too far of a distance to travel this season, this team has made much improvement over last season, and that is something the Lakers can build on.

Even if a trade is made, that could probably help the Lakers reach the playoffs once again too. It has been way too long for the Lakers franchise to not qualify for the Western Conference Playoffs, and if the Lakers want to be one of the top teams in the NBA once again, step one is for them to get back to the “second season.” Most likely, if things don’t turn around soon, that won’t happen this year, but eventually, it will happen, and the NBA will be better for it.

[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]