Lakers News: LeBron James Proud Of Season Turnaround After 2-10 Start
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers began the 2022-23 season with a dismal 2-10 record. They struggled to close games out and didn’t have the firepower to get past the upper tier teams in both conferences. But LeBron James and the new-look Lakers have turned things around since.

L.A. has a 40-29 record since the 2-10 start. That’s the NBA’s ninth-best record since Nov. 12, paired with the league’s ninth-best offensive rating, No. 12 defensive rating, and No. 9 net rating.

It’s been even better since the Lakers acquired players at the trade deadline. They are 17-8 since Feb. 10, the fourth-best record in the NBA in that span, with the second-ranked defense and the No. 8 overall net rating. They are just the sixth team in NBA history to start 2-10 or worse and finish the regular season with an above .500 record.

James, in particular, was impressed with the team’s turnaround given how much time he and Anthony Davis have missed throughout the season. During the All-Star break, he famously called the Lakers’ final 23 games the most important of his career. Now that the turnaround is nearly complete, he was asked to assess how those games went.

“Extremely well. The guys did an unbelievable job when I was out for the four weeks,” James said. “And the games that I played, I just tried to do my part. We played some really good basketball after the break.”

The Lakers are going to finish with a record of at least 42-40, something James didn’t believe was possible given where the team started.

“I was just telling AD, I was like ‘Man, can you believe that we’re going to finish this season above .500 after everything that’s gone on this season?’ We turned this thing around,” James said. “It’s the regular season, obviously, and there’s more basketball to be played, but to know that we’re going to finish a few games above .500 is pretty cool.”

The Lakers’ turnaround has been extremely impressive, and it began with the team-altering trade deadline deals that brought in D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba and Rui Hachimura. Two of those players — Russell and Bamba — have missed significant time but have still managed to make impacts.

Now, the Lakers are going to see what they can accomplish in the postseason. They will most likely be hosting the No. 7-No. 8 Play-In Game against the New Orleans Pelicans or Minnesota Timberwolves. If they can survive that game with a victory, they’ll face a seven-game series against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.

It’s a long road ahead, but to even be in the conversation is a stark change from where they were in November and beyond.

Lakers need help to avoid Play-In Tournament

The only way the Lakers can avoid the Play-In Tournament altogether is with some unlikely help from the tanking Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers play the Golden State Warriors on the final day of the regular season.

If the Trail Blazers beat the Warriors and the Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz, it would set up a tie between L.A. and Golden State. As long as the L.A. Clippers win at least one of their final two games, the Lakers would benefit from any tiebreaker with the Warriors.

This would vault L.A. out of the Play-In Tournament and into the No. 6 seed.

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