The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of work left to do in order to make the NBA playoffs, but former team executive and franchise legend Jerry West thinks that’s just the beginning of what they can achieve.
“I definitely wouldn’t want to play them, I know that,” West told ESPN Los Angeles on a conference call Thursday. “I think they’d have a chance against anyone.”
As it stands now, Los Angeles has the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference at 36-33. With 13 games remaining, they’ll have to be at their best just to make the postseason, let alone compete against powerhouse squads like the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder. But if the Lakers end up with the eighth spot, they’ll face San Antonio, who has had their number during the regular season, sweeping the Lakers in each of their games thus far.
The Lakers will play seven of their final 13 games against playoff-bound teams, including one matchup vs. the always-dangerous Spurs. As the Lakers near full strength as Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and even Jordan Hill potentially return from injuries, the Apr. 14 contest at Staples Center vs. Tim Duncan & Co. figures to be a challenge that will test West’s theory in the most tangible way possible.
But is there an element of posturing here by the man who is literally the NBA’s logo?
West is a current Golden State Warriors executive and may be applying an element of gamesmanship in anointing the Lakers as bulletproof. Their issues are substantial, and it’s difficult to imagine them defeating the league’s best in a seven-game series. It’s not far-fetched to think that West, one of the most competitive athletes in history, isn’t trying to defeat the rival Lakers in some fashion, despite the fact that he’s still a Laker himself at the end of the day.
That scenario is doubtful, and West means what he says. But it will be a tall order for the Lakers to re-enter the discussion among the NBA’s upper echelon of teams.
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