Lebron James to miss playoffs for first time since 2005

Max Lewton and Max Lewton

For the past 14 seasons, it has been pretty much a given that LeBron James would be in the playoffs. LeBron has dominated the competition each year in the regular season, reaching the NBA finals eight years in a row. However, all good things must come to an end as LeBron’s Lakers are on pace to miss the 2019 NBA playoffs. This would be the first time since the 2004-2005 season that the playoffs would not feature a team led by LeBron James; with the regular season near its end, this may just be the case.

When LeBron joined the Lakers last summer, he had expectations of competing for a championship. He believed at the time that the Lakers were in a better position than any other team to win for years to come. However, not everything always goes according to plan, as LeBron is learning the hard way. The Lakers’ whole season has been full of ups and downs with the team showing signs of greatness one day, then underperforming the next. The beginning of the end started when LeBron strained his groin on Christmas Day and missed seventeen games. Without their leader, the Lakers had an unimpressive record of 6-11 during that span. This sent the Lakers down to the ninth seed in the West, which exposed the Lakers’ young and inexperienced roster.

The team believed once their leader returned they would get right back on the path to the playoffs; however, not all things always go according to plan. Since LeBron’s return from injury, the Lakers have gone an abysmal 4-11 and are currently sitting in eleventh place in the West. This record shows that LeBron’s absence was not the only reason why they have been losing winnable games all season long. The Lakers have one of the youngest rosters in the league with an average age of 25 years old. Along with the young and underdeveloped players, they have veterans who are forced into bigger roles than they are capable.

The Lakers’ roster just does not have enough talent to compete with the all the teams in the West right now. The Lakers do have a nice young core of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, but these players are just not ready to compete against experienced teams. Coaching also does play a part in the lack of success the Lakers have been having this season. Luke Walton seems to have lost control of his team with them looking undisciplined and lackluster on the court.

The team has been playing terrible defense, with their defensive rating ranking 13th in the NBA and 20th in defensive rebounding. They also do not have enough shooters for a team with LeBron James on the roster. LeBron loves to drive and kick once the defense collapses on him. The Lakers do not have a very suitable roster for his kind of play, with the team shooting just 47.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the arc.

The Lakers have some work to do before they can become a championship-caliber team in the West. The team needs a change at the head coaching position and ideally, to sign a big-name free agent over the summer. It will be very odd to not see the best player in the game compete in the playoffs this season, and NBA fans will just have to accept it.