BlackJack: You Cannot Bet on the Lakers Again This Season
Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James
- The Lakers are 5.5 games out of the Western Conference's final playoff spot, and it's apparent that LeBron James has checked out.
- BlackJack Fletcher explains why you simply cannot bet on L.A. again this season.
This season has taken a strange turn for the Los Angeles Lakers. I think most of us thought fading L.A. would be a profitable venture to start this season. The Lakers are a popular team and acquired the most talented and popular player in the world in LeBron James. All of this set up for a steady stream of fade.
Yet, what has happened since the All-Star break is simply astounding.
The Lakers have completely and totally come apart at the seams. They have lost games outright to the Hawks, Pelicans, Grizzlies and Suns, all as favorites. They’re 2-5 ATS since the break and 25-38-1 overall ATS this season.
The trade deadline scuttlebutt of L.A. essentially offering the entire roster for New Orleans’ Anthony Davis may have been a cause for concern. Luke Walton on the hot seat may have been another. But the biggest cause for concern in Los Angeles rests solely with its star player.
LeBron James came out of the All-Star break and said that playoff mode was activated. Everybody took this as a sign that his intensity would increase, and LeBron would do everything in his power to will this team to the playoffs. After all, LeBron James hasn’t missed the playoffs since his rookie year. He has been to eight straight NBA Finals. Surely he would not accept the Lakers missing the playoffs.
Yet what we have seen out of him is a comedy of errors, without the laugh track. The incidents are piling up daily. There was the time LeBron criticized his teammates about not being focused entirely on basketball, while he was shooting a music video and releasing details about “Space Jam 2.”
Most egregious, though, are the errors on the court. The absolutely inexcusable errors on the court. The ones in which this generational talent undoubtedly knows better. Start with the inbounds “pass” against the back of the backboard.
This happened during a period where the Suns were on a bit of a run against Los Angeles. LeBron tried to claim it was a silly mistake. A player of his caliber rarely makes that mistake, if ever. Most likely, it was borne out of frustration. While frustration is understandable, it is unacceptable to put your team in a worse position with a turnover, merely to make a petty point.
Then last night against the Clippers, LeBron takes an inbounds pass near the end of the second quarter and watches it roll three quarters of the way up court. He then picks it up and immediately takes an ill-advised 3-point shot. Not surprisingly the shot did not go in.
Or what about Kyle Kuzma needing to literally push LeBron to play defense.
This is a team that is clearly disjointed and not playing together whatsoever. LeBron James has checked out. If the best player in the world has given up, why the hell should anyone else think this season has any promise left in it?
The Lakers sit 5.5 games and two teams out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. There is NO reason to think they can overcome that deficit. The fact that I have more confidence in the Sacramento Kings at this point in the season is all you really need to know about LeBron and the Lakers.
To bet the Lakers going forward this season is absolutely foolish. The team is not playing together. Their head coach is likely to be fired as soon as the season is over. And their best player has openly waived the proverbial white flag.
Be smart with your money and fade the Lakers over their last 15 games.
P.S. I don’t EVER want to hear people compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan again. LeBron is other-worldly in his talents, and an all-time player, but there is simply no way Michael Jordan ever would pull the antics he has over the last month.