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3 reasons the Los Angeles Lakers can overcome struggles post All-Star Break

The Los Angeles Lakers will enter Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers with a 27-31 record and in ninth place in the Western Conference.

Shockingly, Los Angeles is closer to missing out on the playoffs altogether than earning a top-six seed and avoiding the play-in tournament.

The backdrop here is renewed drama between franchise cornerstone and the Lakers’ front office stemming from their lack of activity ahead of the February 10 NBA trade deadline.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is once again sidelined to injury and Russell Westbrook has proven to be an absolute bust after the Lakers pulled off a blockbuster trade for the former NBA MVP last summer.

As dire as things look in Southern California, there’s some optimism that Los Angeles can turn things around coming out of the All-Star Break. Here’s a look at three ways the Lakers can do just that.

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Russell Wesbrook showed signs of turnint it around pre All-Star Break

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The biggest news coming out of Hollywood in the lead up to the NBA trade deadline was the possibility that Los Angeles might move on from Russ after less than a full season with the team. General manager Rob Pelinka and Co. were in conversations with the Houston Rockets that would have sent Westbrook to Texas as a part of a package for John Wall. That never came to fruition.

At 33 years old, Westbrook appears to be a shell of his former self. During a 16-game stretch to start off the calendar year, Russ struggled big time. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists on 39% shooting, including a 29% mark from distance, from January 7 to February 8. The good news? Westbrook played well in Los Angeles’ final two games before the break.

If Los Angeles can get this type of play moving forward, it will help out big time. That’s especially true with Davis sidelined for the foreseeable future due to a mid-foot sprain. LeBron and Co. will need it if the Lakers are to turn things around.

Related: Find out where the Los Angeles Lakers stand in our NBA power rankings

Experience will matter down the stretch for the Los Angeles Lakers

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James himself touched on it ahead of the season. Skeptics viewed the Lakers and their new additions as over the hill. There’s no way that this team could make it through an 82-game schedule without a ton of injuries popping up. As of right now, these skeptics have proven to be right.

With that said, there’s also a lot to say about the aforementioned experience. James (37), Carmelo Anthony (37), Dwight Howard (36), Trevor Ariza (36) and Russell Westbrook (33) all have extensive experience in high-stakes games.

At this point, Los Angeles is going to be battling for a mere top-six seed in the Western Conference after being forced into the play-in tournament last season. There’s optimism that it will be able to beat out less-experienced teams such as the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers for that spot. If so, this experience would do wonders with the Lakers as underdogs heading into the playoffs.

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Los Angeles Lakers still have LeBron James

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Look at it this way. Throughout his first 18 NBA seasons, King James missed the playoffs all of three times. Two of those times came in his first two NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In short, James-led teams are fixtures when it comes to postseason basketball.

As for what we’re seeing from one of the greatest players of all-time this season, James is not even close to slowing down. In fact, he’s in the midst of his best performance since leading Cleveland to the NBA Title back in 2015-16.

  • LeBron James stats (2021-22): 29.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 52% shooting, 35% three-point

James average of 29.1 points per game would be his highest since all the way back in 2009-10. It’s insane what he’s been able to accomplish at the ripe age of 37. Barring continued injury issues (James has missed 17 games this season), he’ll be in position to lead Los Angeles to the playoffs.

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