In many ways, the 2022-23 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers has worked out similarly to last year's campaign. LeBron James and co. are outside the playoff picture looking in and are battling injuries as they try to keep their head above water.
They currently sit in 12th place in the Western Conference. But with the playoff picture as crowded as it is, the Lakers are just a few strong weeks from a guaranteed playoff slot. The sixth-place Clippers are just two games above them while the fourth-place New Orleans Pelicans with home-court advantage are two above them.
Even former Lakers coach and LeBron James whisperer Pat Riley believes the team has an outside shot, thanks in large part to his former Miami Heat superstar. In a recent interview with ESPN's Ramona Shelburne centered around Riley's perspective on King James as compared to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Hall of Famer dropped a line most Lakers fans would love to hear on repeat: “I think they got a shot.”
“To Riley, that hope, that opportunity to compete for a championship, is everything at this stage in a player's career.
“‘That's where LeBron is,' Riley said of the Lakers star. ‘I'm not speaking to anything that he might say in the media, but that's his only reason to continue to play. Breaking the scoring record will be big for him if it happens, and it will happen. But he wants to win titles; that's what drives him. And so for him to continue to play at this level, with that hope that this team is going to come together out there and Anthony Davis gets back, I think they got a shot. I really do. And I believe he believes that too.'”
Pat Riley of course has some inherent bias given his links to both player and team. But the Miami Heat head honcho has one of the greatest basketball minds in history and wouldn't just drop a statement like that in order to pay lip service. The Lakers certainly have a shot if the stars align. The universe just needs to fully cooperate.