After a 126-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell said that their "main focus" was being a playoff team. That is a bold statement, considering they won 17 games last year and this season is not even three weeks old.

Russell's backcourt mate, Nick Young, also said that they can make the postseason, while adding that it's not necessarily fair to make that the expectation. Lakers coach Luke Walton will likely be much more pleased with the latter part of his comments.

From the Orange County Register's Mark Medina:

"We think we could, for sure," Lakers forward Nick Young said. "If we continue to play how we've been playing....."

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson then interrupted Young and asked about the subject matter. After Young caught Clarkson up to speed, the two playfully chastised a reporter for bringing up the topic.

"It's not nice. You put pressure on these young guys," Young said. "Now we have to make the playoffs when you said [before] we were the last team in the world."


"We don't want to just be a team that has a winning record," Russell said after Thursday's win in Sacramento. "It's not satisfying for us. I know we're capable of being a playoff team. That's the main focus."


"Tonight we had 36 assists. If that's how we play, then maybe at the end of the year, we have a chance to make the playoffs," Walton said. "But when you start focusing on the playoffs and not on those little things, we won't be close toward making the playoffs at the end of the year."

Nick Young being swaggy
Nick Young is excited about the Lakers' early-season success. USATSI

The Lakers are one of the best stories in the NBA. They're 6-4, and they've won five of their last six games, including a blowout victory over the Golden State Warriors last Friday. Unlike last season, they are pushing the pace, spreading the floor and defending at a league-average level. All of this is lots of fun, and the players are clearly enjoying the freedom Walton has given them. This does not, however, mean that you can pencil them in for the postseason.

If the season ended today, then the Lakers would make the Western Conference playoffs, as would the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets. They have 72 games to play, though, and it's far too early to count out the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Considering how awful Los Angeles was under former coach Byron Scott, it's remarkable that anyone is even using the word "playoffs" inside the locker room right now. It's no longer completely crazy to imagine this young team taking a huge step this year, and that is a sure sign that it is at least going in the right direction. Walton is wise: the Lakers shouldn't be thinking about playing in May yet, but if they keep playing like this, then they might actually have a chance.