Lakers

2023 Lakers Successful Regardless of Finish

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The 2022-23 season for the Los Angeles Lakers feels like it has been dragged out throughout a few years.

From starting 2-10 to open up the regular season to being three wins away from a conference finals. No matter what the outcome is moving forward, this Lakers season is nothing short of a success.

If you are not a part of the Lakers fanbase, it is very hard to explain how dreadful the last year and a half was. This is why the franchise being where it is right now is so unbelievable. We’ve gone from the very top to the very bottom and are even more surprised to be where we are every day.

THERE WAS A DYNASTY

When LeBron James‘ first season with the storied franchise was derailed due to a groin injury, it was evident a move needed to be made to push LeBron and the Lakers over the edge. So, Rob Pelinka pulled the trigger that offseason and made the trade for Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.

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Despite criticism for the haul that LAL gave up for Davis, it was a perfect fit. In their first season being led by LeBron and AD, the Lakers finished as the No. 1 seed in the conference with 52-19 record and breezed through the competition in the Orlando Bubble, winning the franchise’s 17th championship.

It wasn’t just the superstar duo that was the team’s identity, it was the team around them. Role players like Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Markieff Morris paired with veterans like Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley and JaVale McGee made the perfect team from top to bottom around The King and The Brow. The team had the league’s top defense and went 16-5 in the playoffs.

The recipe for success was so prominent in LA. In fact, Los Angeles’ front office doubled down on that notion by replacing Danny Green, Dwight, JaVale, and Rondo with Wesley Matthews, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol and Dennis Schröder.

Because of the short turnaround into the next season and injuries on both LeBron and AD throughout the season, however, that team underperformed and got bounced in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of a healthy Phoenix Suns team. Nevertheless, that team was even better than the one that won the title the season prior.

The Lakers had the makings of a dynasty right at their fingertips. But then… chaos struck.

THE RUSS ERA

One (shortened season) after winning a championship, Pelinka shook up Lakers nation when he traded Kuzma, KCP, Harrell, and their 22nd overall pick in the 2021 draft for Russell Westbrook.

Schröder asking for way more money than he was worth and the front office tragically letting Caruso walk over the summer flipped the Lakers’ roster from a group of youthful role players surrounding two superstars to washed-up veterans backing up an odd-fitting trio.

It wasn’t pretty.

It wasn’t that Russ was washed or was a bad player. He was just a bad fit with the Lakers and when you consider all that was given up for this one player, every game Laker fans saw themselves pondering how good this team could’ve actually been.

For a franchise as storied as LAL to go from the top of the mountain to the absolute bottom so fast was soul-crushing. Fans new exactly what it took to fix what was wrong but felt like the front office was inept in the ability to make the right change.

That was the feeling until the 2023 trade deadline…

IT ALL CHANGED

Finally, after a season and a half of nothing but injury-mediocre basketball, trades were made to completely restructure the roster before the February trade deadline.

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And since then, the Lakers have looked like one of the best teams in the league. Since Feb. 10 (the first game with their new roster), they have a 24-11 record including the play-in and playoffs.

The success they are seeing is a direct result of reverting back to their old scheme of surrounding their hall-of-fame duo with a great cast of supporting role players.

Not only does the roster look refreshed, but the fanbase is revitalized. The franchise is back where it is supposed to be. And whether the Lakers lose the next four games to the Warriors in this series or make a miraculous trip to the NBA Finals, this season should be viewed as nothing short of a success.

King James + AD = One star-studded bobble. Enjoy a double-double worthy of Hollywood top billing with the LeBron James & Anthony Davis Los Angeles Lakers Bobblemate Dual Bobblehead. Shop this and more authentic Lakers memorabilia at FOCO today!

About Connor Moreno

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