With their 112-106 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers finished 1-3 on their road trip and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. It marks a fifth consecutive season in which they have missed the playoffs.
The drought equals the total from the franchise’s first 65 seasons. The Lakers last made the playoffs during the 2012-13 season, which is more commonly known as the year Kobe Bryant ruptured his Achilles.
Prior to the devastating injury, the Lakers had begun to show the possibility of salvaging what had been a tumultuous season. Former assistant coach Steve Clifford recently highlighted that fact and argued the top playoff seeds were in fear of potentially facing L.A in the first round.
Los Angeles was swept by the San Antonio Spurs, and the next four seasons brought about futility. The current season has seen some of the same, but the Lakers have also made considerable strides.
No longer are they the worst defensive team in the NBA, and their 32 wins are the most since the 2012-13 team won 45 games. Before injuries began to pile up, there was a remote chance that the Lakers would end their playoff drought this season.
Although that didn’t come to fruition, the arrow is undeniably pointing up with a young core led by Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
Julius Randle is factor in that as well, but his future with the Lakers is uncertain as he’s bound for unrestricted free agency this summer. Randle has expressed a strong desire to re-sign with the Lakers, but that possibility will hinge on whether or not the team manages to sign the likes of LeBron James and/or Paul George.