How Worried Should Los Angeles Lakers Be After Painfully Slow Start?

Let's have some fun with remarkably small samples. 

After a disheartening 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets opened their 2014-15 season, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Phoenix Suns by an even bigger margin one night later. Even though the 119-99 final score was embarrassing enough, garbage time narrowed the gap to a misleadingly small number by the time the final buzzer sounded. 

According to, their offensive rating was just 101 after Oct. 29's 12-game slate, allowing them to sit at No. 20 among the 28 teams that had suited up for at least one contest by that date. The defensive rating was even worse, with the Lakers sitting in dead last and allowing 121.3 points per 100 possessions. 

To put that in perspective, my databases, which have information on every team since the 1951-52 season, show that no team's defensive rating has ever been on the wrong side of 115 at the conclusion of a season. The 2008-09 Sacramento Kings, 1990-91 Denver Nuggets and 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks are tied for the worst mark in league history: 114.7. 

Thus far, with the league-average offensive and defensive ratings sitting at 105.1, the Lake Show has earned a DRtng+ of 86.64, which would allow it to supplant the 1998-99 Nuggets (92.57) as the worst point-preventing unit of all time with plenty of room to spare, assuming that number is maintained throughout the season (which it most likely won't be). The Lakers' ORtng+ of 96.1 is better than only 123 of the 1,315 teams in my database, and the combination of the offense and defense is just atrocious. 

With a TeamRtng+ of 91.37, the Lakers have been worse than the 1997-98 Nuggets, 1982-83 Dallas Mavericks and—yes, it's true—2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats. No team in NBA history has finished a season with a TeamRtng+ lower than the Bobcats' record-setting 92.88 mark three seasons ago, and the Lakers are on pace to leave it ...

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