Bold Prediction Casted on New-Look Lakers After Busy Trade Deadline

The Lakers bench

Getty The Lakers bench

The Los Angeles Lakers have been hit with a bold prediction after their busy trade deadline.

In a February 20 column called “Bold Predictions for the Rest of the 2022-23 NBA Season,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote that the new-look Lakers would make the playoffs. The purple and gold revamped their roster at the trade deadline, parting ways with Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Los Angeles acquired Mo Bamba, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Davon Reed.

“Los Angeles is just two games out of the play-in tournament, needing to leapfrog both the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz and at least one of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans,” Swartz wrote. “From there, the Lakers would need to win twice as a No. 9 or 10 seed, or just once as the No. 7 or 8 seed, to officially get in. While the pre-deadline Lakers may not have had a chance, this team is far different. We saw this in a pre-All-Star break 120-102 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, one where newcomers like D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt were already in the starting lineup. While the defense looked stout, perhaps the best sign for Los Angeles was that James was needed for just 29 total minutes and didn’t even have a great night (21 total points, 0-of-5 from three, four turnovers).

“With so much help now surrounding James and Anthony Davis, both superstars can save some energy for the play-in tournament, one where they’d be one of the most talented teams to ever take part. The Lakers will make the play-in tournament, win and eventually reach the playoffs.”

The Lakers are in 13th place in the Western Conference standings. The top six seeds in the conference automatically qualify for the playoffs, while teams 7-10 make the play-in tournament. The Lakers are two games back of the 10th spot and 3.5 games back of the sixth spot.

LeBron James: ‘I Want to Make a Push to Make the Playoffs’

LeBron James issued a powerful statement before playing in his record-tying 19th All-Star Game on February 19. The four-time MVP said the second half of the season will be “23 of the most important games” of his legendary career.

“It’s 23 of the most important games of my career, for a regular season,” James said. “It’s the type of mindset that I have, and I hope the guys will have, coming back off the break. I want to make a push to make the playoffs. I don’t want to see myself not being part of the postseason for two years straight. It’s just not part of my DNA. We’re sitting up here talking about the [scoring] record and things of that nature, and that’s all cool, but I’m more passionate about trying to make the postseason and give ourselves a chance to compete for another Larry O’Brien Trophy. That’s just who I am. That’s what I’m cut from.”

James is averaging 30.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists on the season while shooting 50.8% from the floor, 31.0% from beyond the arc and 76.2% from the free-throw line. The future Hall of Famer has missed 14 games thus far, including a recent three-game stretch due to left foot and ankle pain. James said in Utah that he will do everything in his power to play in every game after the All-Star break.

“I hope I can figure out a way to just make sure that I’m available on the floor every single night for these 23 games to give us a chance,” James said. “Give our group a chance to be able to compete every night and give ourselves a chance to win every night so we can give ourselves a chance to get into the postseason.”

LeBron James to Teammates: ‘Let’s Commit to This’

James stated that for the Lakers to make the playoffs, he and his teammates will have to be fully committed to winning. Los Angeles will face the Golden State Warriors to open the second half of the season.

“It’s going to take a lot of commitment, which is OK,” James said. “That’s what it should be about. We’re professionals. What else do we have to do? Make sure the family is good when you leave the house. You have people helping you around the house. Y’all good? Let’s commit to this. Let’s commit to this and go from there.”

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