Several months ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were in first place in the Western Conference and looked poised to make another deep playoff run. They had a proven core with championship experience and added some notable reinforcements.
Then, it all went south. Anthony Davis was the first to fall with injuries in his calves and Achilles and was forced to miss a lot of time. Later, LeBron James suffered a high-ankle injury just when he was positioning himself as a legit MVP candidate.
It's not a secret that, even though they have plenty of depth, the Lakers will only go as far as their two superstars can take them, especially on such a competitive conference like the Western.
That's why it wasn't a surprise to see the purple-and-gold drastically slide in the standings, up to the point where they're now most likely going to take part in the play-in tournament.
As a matter of fact, coach Frank Vogel recently admitted that they're not likely to make it to the top 6 and avoid that scenario, even after their solid effort to beat the Phoenix Suns, according to Lakers Nation's Ryan Ward.
As of now, the Lakers hold a 38-30 record and are in seventh place in the West. They trail the Portland Trail Blazers by just one game but lost the tiebreaker to them a couple of games ago, so they'll need to win all their games and either them or the Dallas Mavericks to lose multiple times to avoid the play-in.
If the season were to end right now, the Lakers would have to meet Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors for the 7th spot, and while LA has a better team, Curry is the last person you want to see when the season is on the line.