The Los Angeles Lakers came into the 2016-17 NBA season looking to take a step forward in their rebuilding process. They were not expected to be considered a potential playoff team, but the Lakers have come out strong to start the season and have some fans and media members wondering if they could compete for a spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Luke Walton was the first big step in the right direction for the Lakers. They needed an upgrade on the sidelines, and Walton has completely changed the outlook for the Los Angeles franchise.
Add in the perfect mixture of dynamic young talent to go along with a veteran presence and the Lakers’ roster is set up perfectly. They still have a lot of room to grow with young players like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Ingram on board.
Needless to say, the Lakers have an incredibly bright future ahead of them. Even if they don’t make the playoffs this season, they are going to be a serious threat in the West in the coming years.
All of that being said, what five reasons can be given to support the statement that the Los Angeles Lakers will make the NBA Playoffs this season?
Luke Walton’s Coaching Has Changed Everything
As we already mentioned, the addition of Luke Walton has changed everything about the Lakers. They are coming into games more prepared, and Walton is getting the best out of his players. Walton is one of the biggest reasons the Lakers have been as competitive as they have been and that will continue moving forward.
D’Angelo Russell’s Continued Progression
Los Angeles has to be very pleased with the progression that they have seen from D’Angelo Russell. He has averaged 16.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game this season. If the Lakers are going to make a run at the playoffs, they need their young star point guard to power them there.
Above Average Scoring from the Bench
Led by Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers’ bench has been impressive this season. Los Angeles has had some of the best bench play of the season when looking at the entire NBA. Bench scoring is a must for a borderline playoff team, and there is no doubt that the Lakers have it.
Julius Randle Becoming a Draymond Green Type of Threat
Julius Randle doesn’t receive enough hype for the kind of production that he has been putting up this season. He is averaging 14.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game this season. Many are beginning to compare him to Golden State Warriors star power forward Draymond Green, which is high praise for the young big man.
Impressive Play Against Playoff Caliber Teams
So far this season, the Lakers have beaten the Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Atlanta Hawks. They have also played close and competitive games with the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. Los Angeles is proving that they can hang with and beat the elite teams in the NBA, which is a very good indication of future success.
Expect to see the Los Angeles Lakers continue progressing and improving throughout the remainder of the 2016-17 regular season. They may end up coming short of the NBA Playoffs, but at this point in the season are definitely a contender. Being the No. 7 ranked team in the Western Conference may not mean a lot right now, but not many gave the Lakers a chance to be here even at this stage of the season.
Do you think the Los Angeles Lakers will end up making the 2016-17 NBA Playoffs? What are your final record predictions for the Lakers? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Images]