While the Los Angeles Lakers have dropped three consecutive games, they remain on the fringes of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. And newly-returned Larry Nance Jr. is well aware of the team’s position in the standings.
“That’s definitely something I keep track of for sure,” Nance said this week. “[Making the playoffs is] something I would love for this team, I think everybody here would love for the team. It’s very realistic the way it’s shaping up right now.”
Nance isn’t the only Laker to set his eyes on the postseason, as Kyle Kuzma recently called it his next goal for the team. Although they’re just 8-13, the Lakers boast the eighth-best defensive efficiency in the NBA.
With their record, the Lakers are currently the 11th seed, but in a wild Western conference that’s seen its fair share of playoff contenders struck by unfortunate injuries. For a point of reference, the Lakers were in the eighth seed as recently as a week ago.
“After a tough last game, it’s easy to be upset but there’s a bigger plan here. We have to focus on that eight seed,” Nance said. “We can still get it. It kind of brings you back down to earth and refocuses you a little bit.”
The Lakers do have a bigger plan, and anything they accomplish this year is gravy. Their mostly young roster led by a few veteran leaders was never expected to outright make the playoffs this year.
But sticking around in contention for it 21 games into the season is a milestone for a team that’s been as bad as the Lakers have the last several years. They’re trying to show the rest of the league that their young talent is promising and that their team is on the upswing.
Making the playoffs might not be as “realistic” as Nance feels, but the fact that the Lakers play has somewhat justified his confidence is a sign of progress for the team, and one that the rest of the league (and prospective free agents) have surely noticed.
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