Before the last four seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers had never gone more than two years without making an appearance in the NBA postseason.
The team made efforts to get closer to contention for a playoff spot over the summer, adding win-now veterans like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez to their roster and a shiny new lottery pick in Lonzo Ball.
However, while ESPN Analyst Jeff Van Gundy told reporters on a conference call that he likes what the team has done, he doesn’t think it’s enough to get them back into the playoffs this seasonvia ESPN’s Gianina Thompson:
“I think the Lakers have made a lot of good moves. I think Lonzo Ball is going to live up to all the hype. I think he’s going to have an outstanding year. I love his — obviously his passing and his court vision and his — really his care for his teammates, how he takes care of them, and it’ll be interesting to see how those other guys that play with him like Randle, et cetera, how much they benefit from that. I still don’t see them as a playoff team just because the West, there’s going to be good teams that don’t make the Playoffs.”
Going from the third-worst record in the league to one of the best eight teams in a loaded Western Conference was always going to be a tough task for the Lakers barring them building a super team in one offseason. Of course that is seemingly the plan for next summer.
Rebuilding in the NBA takes time, and the Lakers have had and still have a young team. The conference they play in is arguably as good as it’s ever been, which makes it that much more difficult to sneak in the playoffs.
Getting back to contention isn’t going to be an immediate process, even though the team has improved. As Van Gundy said, their failure to make the playoffs this season probably reflects more on how good the West is than any lack of talent on the Lakers’ part.