The Lakers 2022-2023 season seemed to come to a crescendo when LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The record, held by former Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 38 years, was surpassed when James hit a fadeaway jump shot over an Oklahoma City Thunder defense to score his 38,388th all-time point, in his 20th season on Feb. 7. As of now, the Lakers are scrambling to make it into the playoffs. The Western Conference is filled with hungry up and coming basketball teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks. The squads are making waves across the league with their newly acquired talents Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving, respectively.
Signing contracts with D’Angelo Russell, Mo Bamba, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt has helped the Lakers’ goal of reaching a coveted seed in the stacked West. Russell Westbrook, former Lakers’ point guard, signed a mid-season contract with the Los Angeles Clippers and in doing so relieved the LA Lakers of his $47.1 million contract, which many fans and analysts collectively loathed, allowing new contracts to be signed with newly acquired players, including Russell, Bamba, Beasley, and Vanderbilt.
The added length from the fresh players signed at the deadline has given a much-needed boost to the Lakers on the defensive end of the court. Currently, they have the twelfth-best defensive rating in the NBA. They also surrounded James with competent shooters, which has led to success in the forward’s past postseason runs with his former teams: the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. He starred on those NBA squads and won earlier championships with scorers like Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis. However, James (four-time Most Valuable Player and 19-time NBA All Star) injured his ankle while playing against the Mavericks earlier this season. And he has since returned from his injury (injured on Feb. 26) in this month’s earlier Lakers’ game, which the team lost against the Chicago Bulls. While James added 19 points and came off LA’s bench for only the second time in his whole career at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on March 26.
Currently, the Lakers stand at the seventh seed with 41 wins and 39 losses in the Western Conference putting them in the NBA Playoffs, at least for now. It is now up to Davis, James, and their teammates to win their way out of the regular season and once again into the NBA Playoffs, under the command of newly hired head coach Darvin Ham, who is in his first season with the LA Lakers. James’s window for winning a fifth NBA championship is nearing a close at the ripe age of 38 years old. The pressure is on, and the competition is stiff for the basketball players in purple and gold.