Is It Time for the Lakers to Panic Yet?

The Los Angeles Lakers' season has not followed the script so far. LeBron James' arrival in California was supposed to catapult the 16-time NBA champions back into the upper echelon of the basketball world but the purple and yellow have lost their first three games of the campaign.

Monday night's 143-142 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs in Los Angeles was particularly hard to stomach as it came after the Lakers had opened a six-point lead in overtime, which they then proceeded to relinquish in calamitous fashion.

LeBron missed two free throws that would have extended the lead to three points and Patty Mills seized the opportunity to steal the game for the Spurs by landing the winning jumper with just seven seconds remaining.

While the Lakers haven't exactly flown or even crawled out of the blocks, their start is not as alarming as it might look. For a start, drawing conclusions with 79 games of the regular season left is premature at best and a number of other teams—see Oklahoma, Houston and Cleveland—have started slowly.

Additionally, the Lakers have to adjust to LeBron as much as he has to adjust to them. Playing with the greatest player of his generation isn't as easy as it might seem to some and it will take a while for head coach Luke Walton to get his players and LeBron to be on the same wave length.

In Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart the Lakers have one of the most promising young cores in the league but since LeBron's arrival the approach has changed from "building for the future" to "win as quickly as possible" and the Lakers need time.

There is, however, another reason why it is too early for panic to set in at the Staples Center and that is that LeBron's team can notoriously be slow starters, particularly in his first season.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers heads back to the bench during a timeout trailing 143-142 in overtime to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on October 22 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

In 2010-11, in his first season in Miami, the Heat were 9-8 after the first 17 games even though LeBron could count on the likes of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Admittedly, the Heat won four of their first five opening games before they slowed down in November and then embarked on a 12-game winning run.

Four years later, LeBron's first season back in Cleveland began in similar fashion, as a Cavaliers team boasting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love alongside LeBron won just once in the opening four matches and then found itself 5-7.

As was the case during his spell in South Beach, LeBron and his team embarked on a winning run—which lasted eight games, instead of 12—and were 13-7 by the time they played their sixth game in the month of December.

Both the 2010-11 Heat and the 2014-15 Cavs put their slow starts behind to finish second in the Eastern Conference and while it would take a huge leap faith to suggest the Lakers could emulate them, there's ample time for the purple and yellow to address their issues.

Despite the defeat, there were promising signs against the Spurs. Kuzma topped the scoring with 37 points and added eight rebounds and three assists while Ball contributed with 14 points, six assists and six rebounds. Hart also added 20 points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench.

LeBron has seen seasons got off to the wrong start before, there is no reason to panic just yet.