The Los Angeles Lakers are a decent basketball team, with two members of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in LeBron James and Anthony Davis headlining their line-up. Austin Reaves is a promising young guard as well, but that just might be as far as the list goes in terms of quality players for this Laker team.

D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and Spencer Dinwiddie were quite decent for Los Angeles during the regular season, yet it has become clear that it is difficult to expect much from them in the postseason. Gabe Vincent was injured for most of this year and could be a key role player, though if the team thinks he is the answer, they are asking the wrong question.

These depth issues have the Lakers on the brink of elimination as they face the likely prospect of being swept out of the postseason by the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets for a second consecutive campaign.


Game Three of the ongoing first round series between Los Angeles and Denver followed a familiar script with the previous pair of games–and even last year’s Western Conference Finals–as Los Angeles built a double digit lead early on before eventually floundering. It is almost as if the Nuggets allow the Lakers to sprint out of the gates and establish an early advantage so that they can then gradually whittle it down like an apex predator stalking its prey.

Los Angeles’ four-point halftime lead turned into a double digit deficit that hit a high of 15 points late in the fourth quarter. Denver methodically pulled away as they played flawless basketball for most of the second half to take a 112-105 win. The Nuggets’ seven-point winning margin hardly tells the whole story of the match as they are clearly a class above this Laker team.

Davis led Los Angeles with 33 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, and a steal, albeit he was limited to a mere three points in the fourth quarter as Los Angeles seemingly struggled to get him the ball in their half court sets. Meanwhile, the 39-year-old James wound up with 26 points, six rebounds, nine assists, a steal, and a block. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers tried to rally, but none of his teammates provided him with enough support to complete their rally.

With Los Angeles’ offseason potentially just one loss away, general manager Rob Pelinka is about to face some difficult decisions with regards to the composition of this roster. James could potentially walk away from this team and trigger a rebuild around Davis. The nine-time NBA All-Star center just turned 31 years old and played a career-high 76 regular season games this year. He should have a few good years of basketball left which gives the team some wiggle room.

If James does decide to stay, it is imperative that Pelinka does better with his selection of supporting players. Russell, Hachimura, and Dinwiddie are overmatched in their current roles and the decision to sign Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, and Jaxson Hayes this past offseason turned out to be one big flop.

It will be interesting to see what kind of approach Pelinka and the rest of the Lakers’ management take with this team over these next few months. The presence of James and Davis automatically grants them “fringe contender” status, though if they want to realistically win another NBA title, Los Angeles’ front office will have to make better decisions on this team’s personnel.