At 7-11 and 13th in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ first five weeks of 2022-23 have not been the bounce-back season they hoped for following a tumultuous 2021-22. The offense is clunky and full of ineffective shooters. The defense has been solid, though not good enough to prop up the cramped offense. LeBron James has missed six games and not consistently played like his superstar self when available. In a deep and competitive Western Conference, the Lakers are already two games back of a play-in spot and three games back of a top-six seed.
However, they are providing glimmers of optimism recently, as they are 5-1 in their last six games following a 2-10 start and Anthony Davis is in superstar form again. On top of Davis’ stellar play, James played perhaps his finest game of the young season on Saturday, dropping 39 points (76.8 percent true shooting), 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. The optimism that things are trending in the right direction exists internally as well, and according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, L.A.’s top stars see this as a potential contender with the right additions.
“There is belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room, sources said, that the team is only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender,” McMenamin wrote.
Among possible trades involving “a couple of players” is the staunchly reported Russell Westbrook-for-Buddy-Hield-and-Myles-Turner deal, which would likely require Los Angeles to ship off its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. The Lakers are already low on first-round picks after acquiring Anthony Davis 3.5 years ago. That move, of course, did propel them to a championship in 2020. While the front office has been reportedly skeptical of there being a move that can give them a chance to contend for another ring, that belief is at least growing inside the locker room that a title run is within reach if they can bolster the rotation.