Luke Walton thinks the Los Angeles Lakers can "beat anyone" when they're healthy.
It has really been a rough campaign for the head coach so far. And there's no doubting that a fully healthy Lakers squad can do some real damage in the West, but Walton has hardly had the luxury of having everyone available at the same time.
LeBron James is currently nursing a groin injury while Rajon Rondo has undergone hand surgery - his second this season. The veteran guard had also been suspended for his role in that early-season brawl with the Houston Rockets and Brandon Ingram, who has also had his own fitness problems, joined him on suspension as well.
It has been a rocky one for this new-look Lakers side but they've shown that they can be a force when they're playing at or near full health.
Since losing LeBron to injury on Christmas, Los Angeles has gone 3-6 and are now eighth in the Western Conference standings.
Walton, though, reckons his Lakers could take on any other team as long as they've got everyone available.
“Whether it’s LeBron or someone else (joining a new team), it just takes time,” he told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “It just really does. And it’s the same with this team.
Luke Walton getting so fired lmfaaaoooooooo pic.twitter.com/bkrHiQu3EV— Henny White (@NMISL) January 3, 2019
"I (didn’t) know Lance (Stephenson). I don’t know JaVale (McGee) coming into this. Tyson (Chandler) joins the team two weeks in, and we’ve got injuries and suspensions (from the fight with the Rockets), we’re trying to see what groups work the best together and you’ve got people sending you analytics saying ‘this’ and you’re like, ‘Yeah, but analytics don’t take the personalities into consideration, and the chemistry behind the scenes.’
"So it’s the puzzle you’re constantly playing with, and trying to feel out to get the best out of everybody.
“With what we have, and with it being (pro) sports, if we can get healthy we can beat anyone.
“It doesn’t happen often, but you look through the history of sports and there are teams that weren’t supposed to be ready or weren’t supposed to win (it all) that beat other teams, and we have - in my opinion - the best player in the world. And he has proven that he can do the impossible for however many straight years now, so can this be a special season? For sure.”
What This Means
Walton's not wrong. The Lakers could go toe to toe with anyone when they're fully stacked. They even managed to beat the Golden State Warriors with James out for the entire second half on the night of his injury.
The problem they're having is getting results without LeBron in the mix. His absence has put the likes of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Ingram all under pressure and it's clearly too much.
Basically, the Lakers are only as good as LeBron allows them to be. And that's why things could fall apart at any moment.