Three-quarters through, boys! Who had Brooklyn 8th in the East? Better yet, who had the Lakers 9th in the West at 6 games under?
The Harden trade sure is cool but I’ll save that for another day. The LA Lakers are the anti-Sixers – a team trending in the wrong direction with little hope for a resurrection.
Of course we’ll talk about that. We also need to touch on why Ja Morant and Luka Doncic are on historic paces – like, better than MJ and Kobe paces!
We’ll finish with a little East vs West contest which really turns into a tribute to the Phoenix Suns and how amazing they are playing. The Suns are on pace for 66 wins which would be the league’s highest win total since the 2016-17 Warriors went 67-15.
It’s a little of this, a little of that, all NBA!
Surprising Takes on the Sinking Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers suck right now. Russell Westbrook knows how to fill up a stat sheet but doesn’t know how to win. Anthony Davis is always injured. Carmelo Anthony is old.
All of these problems culminated in the Lakers getting pounded at home by the New Orleans Pelicans to the tune of 123–95. This 28-point home loss was the 2nd blowout loss LA has suffered on their home court in 2021-22 – already tied for the most in a single Laker season.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook turned the ball over 7 times each, making 14 total between the dynamic duo. This was the most turnovers the two had combined for since uniting as teammates.
The only video I could find of this gem was from some guy at home filming his TV screen. The Lakers felt too embarrassed to post this one and the Pelicans too guilty.
Man wtf is up with Russell Westbrook bruh 😭😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/YTk3VpwMih
— Shannon Sharpe Burner Account (@shannonsharpeee) February 28, 2022
Another loss means the Lakers have only tasted victory after 6 of their last 20 contests. During this awful stretch, the Lakers points per game, three-point shooting percentage, and point differential have all ranked in the bottom 8 in the NBA.
Before this 20-game stretch, the Lakers were a respectable 21–19 and in 6th place. They are now a season-worst 27–33 and in 9th place – play-in territory.
Former NBA player and champion Richard Jefferson remarked that the Lakers acted unprofessionally in their game against the Pelicans last night – engaging with trash talking fans and reducing their effort in the third and fourth quarters after the outcome was seemingly decided.
NBA analysts Tim Legler and Max Kellerman agree that this loss to New Orleans was “rock bottom” for the Los Angeles Lakers.
For these reasons, yours truly just placed a sizable futures bet at 60-1 on Bovada Sportsbook for the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 2022 NBA finals.
Justifying Faith in the Los Angeles Lakers
What!? You’re crazy!
Ever heard of buy low sell high? If you were ever going to buy stock in the Lakers, this would be the time to do it. LeBron James could never be bought so low before. The Los Angeles Lakers franchise could never be bought for so low.
It takes some guts, but right now is the best time to buy on LA. Wait for the team to straighten things out and the odds will adjust. Choo! Choo! That’s the value train leaving the station.
Why put faith in the Lakers? Simply put, this is a completely different team with a healthy Anthony Davis.
LeBron to AD for the oop! pic.twitter.com/pmdZdh2J61
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) November 6, 2019
Davis has missed a lot of time this season – most recently with a lingering foot sprain. The success of the Los Angeles Lakers’ postseason will depend solely upon the health of AD.
Last season, the Lakers led the Phoenix Suns 2 games to 1 before Anthony Davis got hurt and the Suns came back to take the series in 3-straight games. This season, the Lakers are 11-10 with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the court. We can work with that.
The Phoenix Suns lost Chris Paul – possibly for the postseason. The Golden State Warriors are without Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green for who knows how long.
Provided the Lakers can get healthy and straighten out their mess internally, their path back to the NBA Finals is not impassible.
There are contenders behind LA threatening the team will miss out on the playoffs. The Lakers have a few weeks here to sort this mess out.
With so many proven veteran players on this team I refuse to believe that the Lakers have already peaked. LeBron James doesn’t want this disaster on his legacy, neither does Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, nor Carmelo Anthony.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) February 28, 2022
LA should straighten this baby out and be peaking come April. Does this guarantee an NBA championship? Of course not!
Let’s put it this way: if the Lakers make the playoffs in peak form, would you give them better than 60-1 to run the table?
Go Ahead and Start Making HOF Busts for Ja Morant and Luka Doncic
Ja Morant and Luka Doncic are doing things even Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant never did.
Get this, in the history of the NBA there are only 4 players to post seasons with 25 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds per game at the age of 23 or less.
Those 4 players are Oscar Robertson in the 1960–61 season with the Cincinnati Royals, LeBron James, Ja Morant, and Luka Doncic.
If we widen the search to include 24-year-olds, we can add Dwyane Wade to that list. Widen the search to include 25 year olds and we can add James Harden, Michael Jordan, and Nikola Jokic.
Widen the search to players 26 or younger and we can add Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant to the list (which is still remarkably short).
Only ten 26-year-olds (or younger) have ever posted 25/6/5 seasons. Only 4 have overdone it at or before 22.
Ja Morant is about to complete his first while Luka Doncic has posted those numbers in each of his first 3 seasons – today being his 23rd birthday.
This Ja lay up even had the Bulls announcers hyped 🔥 pic.twitter.com/AJ2na1UOQS
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 27, 2022
Across the entire NBA this season, there are only 6 players averaging 25/6/5. Luka and Ja, of course, alongside Nikola Jokic, Giannis, Steph Curry, and LeBron James.
Let’s restrict the criteria a bit. How many players this year are averaging 27/6/6? Only 3.
The Greek Freak is doing it, as is LeBron, and Luka. Giannis is right at 6 assists. LeBron is at 6.3.
Luka Doncic is averaging 27/9/9! He’s like Russell Westbrook … except he shoots a good percentage, doesn’t turn the ball over too much, and his team actually wins.
Sure, Dallas has struggled to keep pace with the juggernauts that are Phoenix and Golden State, but willing his team to 5th place in a cutthroat Western Conference speaks to the work that Doncic is putting in.
East vs West Battle: More Turmoil?
Which conference has seen the crazier action this season? The most lead changes? The most turnover at the top?
If you haven’t been paying much attention this season the following graphics might be eye-opening. The Western Conference has been the far more stable conference all season long – seeing very little contention amongst the top teams whereas the Eastern Conference has changed hands several times and now sees its former leader in 8th place.
Ignoring the first couple days of the season, here is a look at first-place teams in each conference from November 1st on.
Brooklyn led the Eastern Conference from November 18th to December 31st. The Nets have since lost 19 of 28 games and slid to 8th place. This is without 2 of their Big 3 on the court – Kevin Durant has been hurt and James Harden is now in Philadelphia.
Chicago assumed the Eastern conference lead – preying upon Brooklyn’s demise – leading the conference for much of January before eventually relinquishing on-and-off control to Miami.
The Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers each enjoyed their brief moments in the limelight back early in November. The Wizards are now in 11th place. The Sixers have retooled with James Harden and are threatening to make a run back up to the top of the conference.
The Phoenix Suns have commanded the Western Conference since January 11th. The Golden State Warriors have been on top for nearly each day that the Suns weren’t – save 2 days in early November when the Utah Jazz enjoyed the view from the top.