I went through CBS Sports' preseason win projections (courtesy of SportsLine Data Scientist Stephen Oh) for every National Basketball Association team and compared them to where each team stands right now.
The Los Angeles Lakers could be without Kyle Kuzma for up to a week after the forward suffered a minor ankle sprain.
Tyson Chandler (neck) and Lance Stephenson (toe) are questionable to face the Nuggets. Big, big key guys.
At the time, Lonzo tweeted (with a smiley emoji), "Lakers ain't even makin the Playoffs". Both LeBron James and Rajon Rondo went down with injuries which shifted the momentum of the season and ended up pushing the Lakers out of a playoff spot. "The team just isn't that good". "We should all love this game". "It's tough times right now, and we can't let that get us down".
Walton's forced optimism was entirely unconvincing, and he spent most of his postgame news conference stressing the importance of maintaining professionalism and keeping a day-to-day approach. But more importantly, they will need James to take over for the final 18 games of the season.
The Lakers' resignation came through loud and clear when James was asked whether his minutes might be scaled down in the coming weeks.
"That conversation hasn't occurred, but I'm sure it can happen soon", James said.
James has pushed back against the idea of shutting himself down for the rest of the season, but it's certainly going to become an option for Los Angeles when they fall further out of the playoff race.
The bleak scenario has prompted some to question whether the Lakers would be better served by declaring the season a bust, and preserving James' body for the challenges of the 2019-2020 campaign.
"That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up", James said, according to ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach as well as general manager Rob Pelinka, president Magic Johnson and governor Jeanie Buss, most likely. No matter the circumstances.
"'Cause someone is always watching".