The Los Angeles Lakers are currently a play-in team after three tumultuous first months of competition. The Purple and Gold are trying to bounce back in a competitive Western Conference, but things haven't gone in their favor.
LeBron James has tried to carry them to the top spots in the West, but The King's efforts still aren't enough to get the wins they need to compete with the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz. The Lakers could face one of these in the 2022 NBA playoffs, and if they clash with Phoenix or Golden State, the job will be harder for them.
However, some people think they are in a good position right now, ready to challenge one of the top dogs in the conference. Shaquille O'Neal, for instance, believes the Lakers are 'where they want to be' at this moment.
According to the Big Diesel, the Lakers are trying to see the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. Ja Morant and co. would be an 'easier' rival to the 17-time NBA champions compared to the Suns and Warriors.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that the Lakers are right where they want to be. When you’re older, you’re saying to yourself, ‘Wait until the playoffs.’ So even though they’re not playing spectacularly, they’re still in the eight-spot. So if I was them, I don’t want to play Phoenix or Golden State in the first round. We’re going for Memphis.”
“That’s how you think when you’re older,” Shaq said, via Sports Casting. “When you’re playing against a LeBron or Carmelo, the opponents are going to be playing way above their heads. If I’m playing against somebody, I’m not getting up for you the way you’re getting up for me. But then, when we know what’s at stake during the playoffs, they’re right where they want to be.”
This is an interesting point of view from Shaq, but that won't assure the Lakers' success in the postseason. Let's recall how things went down for them last season. After finishing 7th in the regular season, the Lakers faced a surprising Phoenix Suns team. What happened next was the Purple and Gold getting sent home in the first round of the playoffs against the eventual Western Conference winners.
The Grizzlies are playing great basketball this season and they only have Ja Morant as a star this campaign. That could play in favor of the Lakers, but you can't be sure with this team, especially in the postseason. They're still trying to find their groove this campaign and if that happens, we doubt they'll be ok with only being the 6th seed.