It's not too late for these Lakers
David Thorpe: "The Lakers should be a playoff team."
When this NBA season began, the Lakers wasted no time losing their first five games and becoming the laughingstock of sports media. All the while, though, on the TrueHoop podcast and in his writing, David Thorpe has taken a wait-and-see attitude. Now things have changed a little: Anthony Davis has played incredibly, the injured Thomas Bryant and Dennis Shröder have returned, Russell Westbrook has moved to the bench and—without LeBron James—the Lakers have won three in a row. They have a mediocre five wins to go with ten losses. But as Thorpe points out, they’re only five games out of first place in the West, and they could be so much better. With a big game in Phoenix tonight, Coach Thorpe describes the state of the Lakers.
On LeBron James and Anthony Davis as leaders
There have been many times through the years when I thought, LeBron can’t save this team and I’ve been wrong. Of course, he’s way older now than in his Cleveland days. Early on, the Lakers were defending—that’s gone, aside from AD, who’s been incredible on defense. This seven-foot, gigantic man gets the rebound, pushes it down the court, and makes this incredible touch shot in traffic. There are three or four guys in the world at his size who can do that. He has been dominating the paint and playing inspired basketball.
I don’t love his lack of leadership—or LeBron’s—when the team was struggling. Of late, I don’t see AD really connecting with his teammates. He had an and-one [against the Spurs], and no one came in high-fiving besides Troy Brown Jr. That was kind of weird, but he’s said all the right things publicly, praising the team (especially Thomas Bryant and Dennis Shröder).
But AD is playing like an MVP with LeBron out—and LeBron has been a bit of a cheerleader.