With only one playoff spot left, the battle for the eighth seed in the West will continue until the last day of the regular season. The Los Angeles Lakers are just barely ahead of the Utah Jazz for that final spot, but will need to play their best basketball of the season just to make the playoffs now that Kobe Bryant has suffered a season-ending injury. A closer look at how the Lakers have been with Kobe on and off the floor this season shows that they are going to need to find an offensive spark in Kobe’s absence.
Without Kobe, the Lakers’ offensive rating is a measly 103.6, which would rank 22nd in the league for all teams but with him, their 110.4 rating comes in at fifth in the NBA. The Lakers’ offensive rating with Kobe on the floor is even higher than that of the Spurs (108.8), who the Lakers may face in the first round of the playoffs.
While the numbers reveal that the Laker defense suffers with Kobe on the floor, it also shows that their offense is significantly better, to the point that it completely makes up for their lack of defense. If the Lakers can hold on to that eighth playoff spot, their offense is going to need to find a way to string together more points if they want to advance past the first round.