On the sideline: Lakers start playing like a contender

After a disappointing 2-5 season start by the Los Angeles Lakers, fans started to believe that the team was all hype. However, since then, the Lakers have gone 13-4, climbing to fifth in the Western Conference and becoming a little more cohesive with each game.

 The last time the organization experienced this kind of start was six years ago when their Luke Walton was a Laker player, not the head coach.

Offensively, the purple and gold rank tenth in the league, averaging 112.7 points per game due to superstar Lebron James. Their current starting five has given young players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma the opportunity to become top Lakers scorers, with both of them averaging over fifteen points a game.

With Moritz Wagner getting the green light to play again, the Lakers plan to develop him into a solid role player easing him into the NBA scene.

Defensively, Tyson Chandler, who was acquired at the start of the season, and JaVale McGee have held down the post for the Lakers. Their defensive assets have been important for the team, with Chandler blocking potential game-winners and McGee averaging almost three blocks per game.

Not only is McGee’s presence felt on defense, but also on offense, where he is the fourth leading scorer on the roster.

A current problem that the Lakers have is finding a starting shooting guard that fits the starting lineup. Most recently, the coaching staff has assigned 6-foot-10 Ingram to the position in hopes of fixing the problem. But because of his slower speed and limited experience with the position, his defense against smaller players has been subpar, allowing open pull-up shots or easy drives to the lane.

One example of this were the Lakers’ games against Portland. The Trail Blazers’ shooting guard C.J. Mccollum has scored over 20 points per contest against the Lakers. For the team to become stronger, Ingram must adapt to the guard position or the team should have Josh Hart start as shooting guard. Hart has been a consistent shooter (55 percent field goal, 8 ppg) from both the two and three-point range.

Also, because of the Lakers’ emphasis on offense, the team has allowed small things to ruin their games, leading to a couple of losses over one or two scoring possessions.

This could potentially bite the Lakers later on in the season, but improving free throw shooting and decreasing turnovers will allow the team to quickly rise in the standings.

Though the team needs more work, their performance in the highly competitive Western Conference has had fans celebrating— especially over James, who became fifth in the NBA’s All-Time scoring and is on path to pass Michael Jordan later this season.

The veteran has become the backbone of the team, supporting them with his leadership skills and establishing a strong offense for the Lakers.