LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the LA Lakers have had a rough start to the 2022-23 NBA season so far. They’ve had to deal with plenty of detractors, especially after the Sacramento Kings won on Sunday and left them as the only winless team in the NBA with a 0-5 record.
The Denver Nuggets announcers even took a jab at them in the game today, stating that this was the first time that LeBron James had ever been on the worst-performing team in the NBA during his entire career. I’m not entirely sure how true that statement is, because he also started 0-5 in his rookie campaign in Cleveland, and that was 20 years ago.
Things didn’t start that great for the Lakers against the Nuggets, either, with Denver putting up a 31-26 lead after the first quarter behind a strong start from Nikola Jokic.
Jokic went on to finish with 23 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and two blocks. Jamal Murray was their second-leading scorer with 21 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Aaron Gordon also had 18 points and six rebounds. Michael Porter Jr. had a tough night, shooting 5 of 15 from the field and it was quite clear that he still didn’t have his legs and rhythm back yet.
Fortunately for the Lakers, Davis was ready to step up and duel his Serbian counterpart. He had 23 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in a strong all-around performance. That complemented James’ 26 points, six rebounds, eight assists and a steal.
Westbrook, coming off the bench for the second time this season, finished with a game-best plus/minus of +18 while ending the game with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. He shot 50% from the field, including making 2 of 4 three-pointers. If he could perform like this consistently, it would unlock the offense for the second unit.
Everyone in the Lakers organization will be hoping that they can build some momentum out of this. However, they’ve got a barnburner of a November, where they’ll be facing the following teams:
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Utah Jazz (twice)
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- LA Clippers
- Sacramento Kings
- Detroit Pistons
- San Antonio Spurs (three times)
- Phoenix Suns
- Indiana Pacers
Of those teams, only the Kings, Pistons and Pacers have losing records. The rest of the teams are either performing above preseason expectations, like the Jazz and Spurs, or are legitimate contenders. The Pelicans will be a big test in their next game, as Zion Williamson has made his return, but Brandon Ingram will not be around as he’s still under concussion protocols and didn’t join the squad on their road trip.
We’ll have a much better idea of where the Lakers stand after November. For now, it’s fair to let them breathe and enjoy the first victory of the season.