The NBA season is not even halfway through and Los Angeles Lakers fans have already been on a roller coaster ride.
The 2022-23 season got off to a nightmare start for the Lakers as they lost their first five games and 10 of their first 12, holding the worst record in the NBA.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis looked human, already dealing with minor injuries. Russell Westbrook still looked like he didn’t fit, struggling to embrace a lesser role off the bench. The Lakers also looked like not only the worst shooting team in the league, but perhaps in NBA history.
With a brand new roster and coaching staff though, sometimes it just takes time for teams to gel and figure things out, and it appears that was the case with these Lakers.
Over the last 10 games, the Lakers have the best record in the league at 8-2. And in that span, they rank fourth in offensive rating at 118.6, eighth in defensive rating at 110.2 and fourth in net rating at +8.4.
If the Lakers had started off the season like this, then not only would they be viewed as championship contenders, but probably one of the favorites to win it all. And while they still have a long way to go before actually entering that status, here are some other things about the team that people would think differently if not for such a poor start.
Anthony Davis is MVP
Davis has been the best player in the NBA over the last 10 games, and it hasn’t really been close.
During the Lakers’ 8-2 stretch, Davis has averaged 35.3 points, 15.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.9 blocks while shooting 64.8% from the field, 45.5% from 3 and 88% from the free throw line.
What else can you want from a player?
After beginning the season with a minor back issue, Davis is now healthy and playing arguably the best basketball of his entire career, dominating on both sides of the ball.
He is a few more Lakers wins away from entering the MVP conversation regardless (team success matters for those type of awards), but if we’re only looking at the last 10 games then Davis would be a unanimous MVP.
Maybe we don’t need to trade Russ?
Who would’ve thought we would ever reach this point after the last year and a half, but when only looking at this recent stretch, it’s logical for one to think that maybe the Lakers shouldn’t trade Westbrook.
Westbrook has been bringing the Lakers energy off the bench, running the second unit and buying into the role that Darvin Ham envisioned for him.
Outside of LeBron, playmaking is something that this roster lacks a bit and Westbrook has provided that, especially with the chemistry he has built with Davis.
Westbrook is averaging 8.8 assists in just 26 minutes per game over his last 10 contests. His scoring output has decreased, but that’s a case of him cutting out bad shots from mid-range from his arsenal and instead looking to create plays for his teammates.
I still think the Lakers look to move Westbrook ahead of the deadline seeing as that his $47 million expiring salary is one of their only contracts that can bring actual money back. The last handful of games have provided an legit argument for keeping the veteran point guard, however.
Lakers can actually shoot
Perhaps the biggest change for the Lakers in this recent stretch though has been their outside shooting.
It was no secret that when this roster was put together it lacked shooting, and the worst-case scenario played out in the first 12 games as the Lakers were hovering right around 20% from 3.
That would be the worst mark in NBA history by a mile, and while some sort of turnaround was expected, the Lakers becoming a legit good team from outside was not expected.
Over the last 10 games, the Lakers are shooting 37% from 3. Davis and James have started hitting more while role players like Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. have contributed as well.
The Lakers still rank 26th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage, but 33% is a lot more respectable than where they were out through the first segment of the season.
The only question now is if it’s sustainable or if L.A. will regress after this recent hot stretch from deep.