NBA Landscape Last Time Lakers Made Playoffs


2013 was the last time the Los Angeles Lakers made the playoffs. The 6 year drought is technically over, but will officially end sometime in August in the Orlando bubble during the NBA restart.

A LOT has happened since April 2013 and July 2020.

What did the NBA look like at the end of the 2012-13 season, in comparison to now?

About the 2013 Playoffs

Lakers finished 7th in the West and were swept in the first round by the Spurs. Current Lakers guard Danny Green averaged 10.5 ppg as a starter for those Spurs.

Spurs went on to lose to Lebron James and the Heat in the NBA Finals.

James won regular season MVP and Finals MVP. It was Lebron’s second (straight) championship and his 4th (out of eventually 9) Finals appearances.

The Spurs loss, meant no ring for Kawhi Leonard, who at this point had not yet to become the second player in NBA history to win NBA Finals MVP in both the West and East – Kawhi won 2014 Finals MVP with Spurs and with Raptors in 2019. (the other player is Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who achieved this feat with Bucks and Lakers).

About Lakers Players

After being the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, Anthony Davis played his rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets (not a typo – they weren’t the Pelicans until after this season). Davis averaged 13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg and was NBA All-Rookie First Team.

4 of the 5 Lakers who primarily started in 2013 are out of the league – Steve Nash, Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace), Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant. The 5th starter was Dwight Howard…

Dwight Howard was an All Star starter for the Lakers in 2013, after being acquired in the summer of 2012 in a 4-team trade. After that season, Howard signed with the Rockets, later signed with the Hawks, traded one year later to the Hornets, traded after one year to the Nets where he was immediately bought out, signed with the Wizards and played 9 games in DC, and now he is back with the Lakers. So basically, nothing has changed since 2013.

Rajon Rondo was an All Star starter for the Celtics and led the NBA in assists per game (11.1).

Recently signed JR Smith won NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Knicks.

Avery Bradley was NBA All-Defensive Second Team.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a year away from being in the NBA. He averaged 18.5 ppg and 7.1 rpg in 34 mpg during his sophomore season at University of Georgia.

Javale McGee was a backup center (19 mpg, 9.1 ppg) for the Nuggets, who finished third in the West. Denver’s strong season led to GM Masi Ujiri being named Executive of the Year in 2013 and George Karl Coach of the Year. Ujiri, of course, later left Denver to build the Raptors into a championship team.

Second year forward Markief Morris averaged 8.2 ppg and played all 82 games and Jared Dudley averaged 10.9 ppg and played 79 games with the Suns, who finished wit the worst record in the West (25-57).

Recently signed Dion Waiters was a rookie on the Cavs, after being drafted 4th overall.

Kyle Kuzma was 17 years old and finishing up high school.

About the East

THE KNICKS WERE GOOD! Really good, actually. Knicks finished 54-28, second in the East and won a playoff series for the first time since 2000. (side note – because the Lakers were swept in 2013, the Knicks have won a playoff series more recently than LAL).

Jason Kidd played 76 games for the Knicks, in his final NBA season. Kidd is now a Lakers assistant coach (after two stints as a head coach).

Knicks lost in the second round to the Pacers, who were coached by current Lakers head coach (and J-Kidd boss) Frank Vogel.

Pacers lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to Lebron and the Heat.

Nets, playing their first season in Brooklyn, finished 4th in the East, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The Celtics, who finished 7th in East, had yet to use any of the 4 first round picks acquired from the Nets in this trade.

Bucks (38-44) finished 8th in the East and would go on to draft 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 Draft.

76ers finished 9th in the East (34-48) and soon began a massive rebuild, called “trust the process”, Following the 34 wins in 2013, they gutted the roster and won 19, 18, 10 games over the next 3 years, winning just 19% of their games.

Charlotte’s NBA team was known (for the last year) as the Bobcats.

Bulls forward Luol Deng made the All Star team and led the league with 38.7 minutes per game. Deng signed a 4 year contract in 2016 with the Lakers, and played just 57 games.

First time All Stars in the East included Kyrie Irving (Cavs), Brook Lopez (Nets), Tyson Chandler (Knicks), Paul George (Pacers), Jrue Holiday (76ers), Joakim Noah (Bulls).

Orlando Magic (20-62) finished with the worst record in the NBA.

About the West

Thunder, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, finished first in the West with a 60-22 record.

Right before the season, Thunder traded James Harden to the Rockets, who finished 8th. Harden was named to his first All Star team.

Warriors made their first playoff appearance since the “We Believe” team in 2007 (#8 seed upset #1 Mavs in first round). Steph Curry broke out with a (then-career high) 22.9 ppg and David Lee averaged 18.5 ppg and 11.2 rpg en route to an All Star appearance. This was the first season Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were all together.

Grizzlies, led by Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and All Star Zach Randolph, made it to the Western Conference Finals (swept by Spurs).

Damian Lillard won Rookie of the Year on a Blazers team that finished 11th in the West and produced an All Star in LaMarcus Aldridge.

What else has happened since the Lakers last made the playoffs?

Kobe Says Good-Bye

On April 16, 2016 Kobe Bryant played his final NBA game, scoring a historic 60 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter.

Lakers closed out a miserable season (17-65) with a 101-96 win over the Jazz, which kept them out of the playoffs.

Major Acquisitions

Lakers signed Lebron James in free agency in July 2018. In 2019, Lakers went 37-45 and Lebron missed the playoffs for the third time in his career.

The following summer, Lakers traded 2 former #2 picks (see below), Josh Hart and 4 future first round draft picks (including 2019 #4) to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis.

#2 Draft Picks

Lakers held the #2 pick in three straight drafts (2015-2017)

  • 2015 – drafted D’angelo Russell (after Karl-Anthony Towns went #1)
  • 2016 – drafted Brandon Ingram (after Ben Simmons went #1)
  • 2017 – drafted Lonzo Ball (after Markelle Fultz went #1)

Ingram and Ball were the price the Lakers had to pay to get Anthony Davis.

Firing 3 Head Coaches

Mike D’Antoni went 67-87 in two years and was fired in 2014. Byron Scott, a former Lakers PG who won 3 NBA titles as a player, replaced him and led the Lakers to their first ever 60 loss season – TWICE, going 38-126 overall. Luke Walton was hired in 2016, after going 39-4 as Warriors interim coach, but he compiled a 98-148 in three seasons and was replaced in 2019 by Frank Vogel, who has led the Lakers to the best record in the West.

2016 NBA Free Agency

2016 free agency was WILD as the salary cap saw a significant spike. The Lakers did not use their money wisely.

Here are the moves the Lakers made

  • Luol Deng – 4 years, $72 million
  • Timofey Mozgov – 4 years, $64 million
  • Jordan Clarkson – 4 years $50 million

Deng played 57 total games. Mozgov played 54.

Clarkson was good, but in an effort to shed his salary Lakers traded him and Larry Nance Jr to the Cavs for Isaiah Thomas.

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