Back in August, before there was any preseason losing streaks or regular season losing streaks or panic button obliterating going on, 100 of the "finest basketball minds at ESPN" picked how many wins each team would win and the Lakers averaged out to 59.
Now there's been a winless preseason, followed up by two losses to start the regular season. Eight games, zero wins. The Lakers are still 59 wins away from 59. Offseason projections are being reconsidered.
So, how many is it reasonable to expect them to win?
First, let's point out that 0-2 isn't as horrid as it sounds. Last year, nine teams started off with two losses. Five of them made the postseason. Then again, last year was a strange year with the lockout and all.
The last time there was an 82-game season, only one team, the Philadelphia 76ers, lost their first two and made the postseason, and that was as a seventh seed. They won 41 games.
If the Lakers want to look to a team for hope it's the 2009-10 Cleveland Cavaliers, who dropped their first two but finished the season with 61 wins. Starting 0-2 doesn't mean you can't win 59. It just means it's not likely.
That gives us a pretty fair range to change from. At worst, the Lakers would have 41 wins. At best, they'll have 61. Averaging those numbers out gives a not too irrational estimate of 51.
Another consideration is the 2010 Miami Heat, who were reconfigured with superstars and got off to a 9-8 start. They finished the season with 58 wins. That might seem a little prodigious for the Lakers right now, but it seemed so for the Heat after 17 games.
The bottom line is that it's hard to figure with the Lakers because they're hard to figure.
There are two factors in operation here. First, there is the fact that the Lakers' starting five is enormously talented, and in the NBA talent counts more than in any sport.
The other factor is that the Lakers are running what is arguably the single-best offense for annulling talent that there is. The problem is that it was designed to annul the talent advantage of other teams, not your own.
Granted, it's a "hybrid" offense but we aren't seeing what that means yet and it's hard to figure out what they want to do because even the Lakers themselves don't seem to know what they want to do. They're often looking disoriented and seem like they're still trying to figure it out.
How Many Games will the Lakers win?
One of two things must happen soon. Either the Lakers must figure the offense out or change it to something they already know. With Nash missing their next game, they should at least give it one more shot, but if that works out, they should give the good old fashioned pick-and-roll a go.
How soon they get this figured out will determine how many they win. With Los Angles already being aghast at what is happening, it's hard to imagine the Lakers sticking with the comedy routine for very long.
Once that happens, look for the Lakers to go on a run. The first win will give them confidence and then they'll start rolling up their opponents. Sure, they'll still hit some speed bumps along the way, and potential for injuries is a big risk factor, but 55 wins is still a reasonable prediction for the Lakers.