That is true if the team is the top seed in the playoffs or the final team in via the play-in tournament.
But they will have to overcome a telling historical trend if they are going to win it all this year.
After their loss to the Suns on Tuesday, the Lakers are 16-16 this season.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no NBA champion has been .500 or worse more than 20 games into a season. pic.twitter.com/m9PmNBezJi
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 22, 2021
The Lakers are now 16-16 through 32 games.
No NBA team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, has won a title after being .500 or worse after only 20 games.
Dealing with COVID and injuries is a fair excuse for the Lakers.
But it’s not like every team in the Western Conference is struggling this year.
The Biggest Hurdles In The West
The Lakers fell to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday by a 108-90 final.
While the Lakers dropped to 16-16, the Suns are now 25-5 and atop the West.
The Golden State Warriors are right behind at 25-6.
Even the Utah Jazz are 21-9 on the season.
The Lakers enter Wednesday 10 games out of first in the seventh spot in the West.
Yet they are one-half game out of fifth, as it is still early in the season.
The Lakers can’t complain about injuries when they willingly tossed away their depth and built around 3 guys: LeBron in Year 19 at 62k mins, Westbrook in Year 14, and Davis who ain’t exactly Cal Ripken. This was always stupid. From Day One. Now they have no outs.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 22, 2021
Losing Anthony Davis to an MCL sprain as a major blow and Tuesday’s game showed the problem with the way the Lakers are constructed.
James led the way with 34 points and Russell Westbrook was second with 22.
The other three starters combined for a total of seven points on the night.
That is inexcusable and Talen Horton-Tucker, who is taking on a bigger role, finished 1-13 from the floor in 31 minutes.
The Lakers clearly need another scorer because Davis averages over 23 points per game.
With him out, that puts immense pressure on James and Westbrook.
Los Angeles may need to make a trade or two and target some younger scorers if they want to break this trend and win a title after such a slow start.