There are now fewer than 10 games left in the Lakers’ season. Even if the team was not 21-52 on the year or that Brandon Ingram was set to sit out his 2nd consecutive game with knee tendonitis, I would be saying this same thing: with the Lakers out of the playoff hunt, there is very little left to analyze in this season.
Sure, we can see if Julius Randle making 3’s is an actual thing. We can look at D’Angelo Russell’s work off the ball and start to sort out what type of contributor he can be playing next to a ball dominant player. We can see if Jordan Clarkson can continue his uptick in growth as a passer out of the P&R. Add whatever other small things you’ve noticed since the all-star break and add them here too.
And while those things matter, at this stage of the year, the value you extract from those things can only go so far. The off-season will be here before we know it and with that will come a time for change and, hopefully improvement. It will come through roster turnover and through player development via their own regiments. The expectation is that forward strides will be made and that both the organization and the players will explore all avenues (within the rules of the game) to come back next season better.
Which, ultimately, leaves what remains in this season as less important than what stands ahead in the coming months. Again, that doesn’t mean there’s no value in the Lakers’ final 9 games, it just means what does come out of them isn’t going to change many opinions or projections based off the 73 games which came before them. We have seen enough to form the basis of a good opinion about where guys stand.
So, when the Wizards visit the Lakers tonight, I’ll be watching and taking notes about how the guys play, I’ll be looking for more wrinkles in the sets, and watching for how they respond to the various situations which occur within a game. How do they respond to adversity? Do they play hard defensively? Do they try to move the ball offensively? These are signs of team play and of, you know, caring about what happens on the floor. The other stuff is good and nice and I’ll be happy to see those things continue to progress, but if they don’t I’m also not going to cause a riot.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.