‘We don’t have the group yet’

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Although some thought the Los Angeles Lakers would be championship contenders this season, superstar LeBron James says the team is just a work in progress.

Friday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was the Lakers’ ninth loss of the season. Earlier this week, James suffered the worst loss of his NBA career as the team suffered a 44 point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

After the game, James pointed to the team’s recent spate of injuries as one of the reasons for the latest disappointing loss. However, the four-time NBA champion also praised the team’s ability to overcome adversity amid the current set of challenges.

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Lebron James brings the basketball down the court

Lebron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives the ball down the floor in the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center on November 30, 2023 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

“You could start the [three games in four nights]back to back, our bodies haven’t started to wear on us, especially against a young team like OKC.”

“I don’t know what we are. How? We don’t have the group yet. I know what some of us are individually, but as a team, we don’t have the group yet. We haven’t logged enough minutes with our group where we know we got the starting group, the guys coming in, we got a good rhythm. We’re over .500, yes We’re 11-9 and we literally never have the same group. That’s pretty impressive.”

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Lakers coach Darvin Ham also expressed confidence in the team’s ability to compete at a high level once they are “healthy”

“At the end of the day, I know what we’re going to be. I know once we’re healthy, how complete and balanced our attack will be. We’ve got to deal with it today and just try to, again put your best foot forward as best you can.”

LeBron with a towel on his head

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers sits on the bench during overtime during the team’s NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Lakers are certainly missing their fair share of players they would normally rely on, but it’s not clear that this roster would be a clear championship player if it were at full strength.

Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent did not play in Thursday’s game.

LeBron James talks to teammates

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James talks to teammates during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

One major area the Lakers need to improve on, if they want to compete with the likes of the defending champion Denver Nuggets, is three-point shooting. Los Angeles’ 29.7% three-point accuracy is last in the league.

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The Lakers managed to make enough adjustments and roster moves down the stretch of last season to make a run to the Western Conference Finals. There is still over 75% of the regular season left, giving the Lakers plenty of leeway to get on track.

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