Phew! The roller-coaster of a season that was the 2018/19 campaign is now over. The Los Angeles Lakers finished with a record of 37-45, the 11th worst record in the NBA. This projects them with a 77.6% chance of the 11th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, odds on them moving higher appear slim but still possible.
There were some ups throughout the season, albeit rare, such as the victory over Golden State on Christmas Day, Rondo’s buzzer-beater against the Celtics, and LeBron’s 51-point performance on his return to Miami, to name a few.
Although let’s be honest, the season consisted of mainly downs, as the team missed out on the playoffs for a sixth successive season. The front office conducted the Anthony Davis trade debacle in questionable fashion, coaching decisions raised eyebrows, and the veterans on the team failed to show when it mattered. Of course, injuries played a huge part also.
Much like the other reviews that we have conducted throughout the course of the season, we have brought some UK-based Laker fans on board to give their opinions on what has been an eventful season, to say the least!
Q: What were your expectations for the Lakers going into the season?
Mohamoud: “The Lakers met the expectations that I set at the start of the season. I didn’t expect them to make the playoffs at all. However, as the season went on with LeBron doing his thing, come Christmas day I was convinced we would be a top 3 seed.”
Steve: “I definitely expected the Lakers to make the playoffs. Honestly I also expected them to get swept by the Rockets or Warriors.”
Kojo: “I was expecting the Lakers to reach the playoffs, by attaining the 6th or 7th seed. I believe our full roster when healthy could have achieved this, especially with LeBron James.”
Martin: “Before the season started, I thought #7 or #8 in the West. A first trip to the playoffs in 6 years was a pretty realistic expectation once we signed LeBron. Then once the season got underway and we started playing well, I started thinking that these guys might have a chance of Conference finals… we all know how that worked out!.”
Phil: “Honestly I had hoped for at least the playoffs. I had also hoped to see the young core start to show its potential. Up until Christmas Day I was happy, but the injury curse really took it’s toll on the second half of the season.”
Q: How do you think the season went? What grade would you give it?
Mohamoud: “I give them a solid D. Everything went south when LeBron got injured, that was the main factor to their failure. With all the drama surrounding the coach and the young players I felt that this season has been a massive waste.”
Steve: “The season has been a disaster. I think the experiment of having 4 ball dominant players on the floor went wrong. Injuries played the worst part definitely, but the injuries also showed the true value of Lonzo Ball. The Lakers had a top-10 defense with him on the court.”
Kojo: “I believe the season has been very turbulent due to the large spells of inconsistencies. This season has been very frustrating as the injuries have had a huge affect on our young squad.”
Martin: “Disappointing as a whole and disastrous in places. Obviously injuries have cost us massively, along with the Anthony Davis debacle that seemed to destroy what was looking like a great team chemistry. On court: C-, off-court: F.”
Phil: “First half of season: B, second half of season: D+.”
Q: This season certainly hasn’t reached the expectations of most, what has been the main reason for the Lakers’ failure?
Mohamoud: “Main reason was LeBron’s injury.”
Steve: “Injuries and the makeup of the team.”
Kojo: “Poor management from Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson. However, if we didn’t pick up too many injuries then our team would have been in a different position.”
Martin: “I think there’s several reasons as to why we’ve not lived up to expectations. I think very early on certain players struggled to adapt to playing with LeBron and their individual games suffered. Saying that, we were bailed out by just how good LeBron was. Injuries then disrupted us in a major way. Then the trade deadline shenanigans, which seemed to completely fracture the team’s chemistry beyond the point of repair.”
Phil: “I think the Anthony Davis trade showed a big naivete of the front office. It really rocked the young core. I don’t think trading Ivica Zubac was smart at all. I think the coaching staff need to take some blame too, our D has been woeful this year.”
Q: On a positive note, what was your favourite moment of the season?
Mohamoud: “I haven’t got a favourite moment per se. Maybe earlier in the season when LeBron put the Spurs to the sword.”
Steve: “That would have been Tyson Chandler‘s game saving block against the Hawks.”
Kojo: “Defeating the Warriors on Christmas Day, what an amazing Christmas treat. Another spectacular moment was LeBron’s 50-point game.”
Martin: “Easy one for me… Rondo’s buzzer beater against the Celtics.”
Phil: “Rajon’s buzzer beater vs the Celtics.”
Q: Carrying on the positive vibes, has there been a player that surpassed your expectations this season, and why?
Mohamoud: “Has to be McGee, he was solid for the most part of the season. He was probably the only player we signed that was worth the money.”
Steve: “Actually there are three. While Ball and Kuzma started well, it’s been Brandon Ingram in 2019. If he keeps getting better, he can become an All Star.”
Kojo: “I think Rajon Rondo, KCP and at times Brandon Ingram have really excelled this season.”
Martin: “Zubac was well on his way to…. Oh wait this is supposed to be a positive part.”
Phil: “When fit Zo has been better than I expected.”
With there being plenty of topics to cover, we have split the end of season review into two parts. See part 2 here.
By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)