As the NBA season comes to a close, there is much to reflect back on about this season for basketball fans in Los Angeles. Both teams were ready to compete at the beginning of the season after making numerous changes to their roster. In the end, the Lakers finished the regular season with a 37-45 record while the Los Angeles Clippers finished 48-34.
The Lakers had high expectations going into the 2018-2019 season after signing the best player in the game in Lebron James during free agency. He had made it to the NBA Finals eight consecutive years in a row and hadn’t missed the playoffs since 2005 which was his second year in the NBA. The Lakers were expected to reach the playoffs and make huge progress from the previous season after signing Lebron James.
However, due to the Lakers not having enough talent for the team to compete, they missed the playoffs badly finishing tenth in the conference. The Lakers also surrounded James with young developing players who could not handle the pressure of playing with him. On Christmas while playing against the Golden State Warriors, Lebron James suffered the worst injury of his career resulting in him missing 17 straight games. The Lakers hopes of making the playoffs plummeted after going 6-11 during that stretch to fall out of playoff contention for the rest of the season.
Trade rumors swirled around during the Trade Deadline in February as well which also impacted many of the young players and veterans on the team. The season was not very successful for the team and disappointing to many fans.
On the other hand, the Clippers finished with a very successful record and made the playoffs as the eighth seed. The team was projected to win 35 games according to the ESPN Forecast Panel but managed to win 48 games. The Clippers made no major signings during the offseason and relatively had the same players from the year before. The scrappy Clippers team, with players that had much determination to win and work hard towards the playoffs, managed to do just that.
They traded their top player Tobias Harris to the 76ers at the trade deadline and received a rookie with high potential, multiple role players with expiring contracts, and four draft picks to be used in the future. Many NBA fans thought this trade would take them out of playoff contention, but the team finished the season 18-9 after the trade which accelerated them into a playoff spot. They faced the mighty Golden State Warriors and challenged them well to win two games in Golden State, but fell to them as nearly everyone predicted.
In the season, the Clippers were very successful surpassing preseason expectations and making the playoffs. The Lakers were unsuccessful missing the playoffs even with the best player in the game on their team. In order to improve, both teams should expect to sign top free agents. The Lakers should be able to sign one top free agent while the Clippers could have enough cap space to sign two top free agents.
Star players that both teams could realistically sign are Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors, and Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics. Signing any one of these players for both teams would most likely boost their team into title contention. Signing multiple solid players rather than one superstar would also have a positive effect on the teams.
Both the Lakers and the Clippers should expect to make the playoffs next season and make a deep push through the playoffs. Signing free agents and possibly making big trades will allow them to compete for the next few seasons in Los Angeles. Both Los Angeles teams have bright futures ahead of them and fans should be excited for what is yet to come.
Jonathan Kim, Grade 7
Culver City Middle School