The team – which used to be successful – struggled almost in 2021/22, failing to make the playoffs after eight successive defeats at the end of the season that knocked them out of the competition.
From questionable off-season moves to injuries and failed stars, there were a host of reasons for the team’s disappointing season.
And with so many questions surrounding the team’s future – a new head coach will have to be found and the roster will have to be rebuilt with limited tools – the future around the Lakers certainly looks uncertain.
Two years ago, the Lakers were the world champions.
Behind Choke’s defense and their two stars – James and Davis – the team won the 2020 NBA Championship title in a Covid-19 safe bubble in Florida.
But this season’s version of the team is a shadow of that.
After last season’s play-off defeat to the Phoenix Suns – a watershed streak in which Davis sustained an injury that turned things around – the roster has been overhauled.
The team traded the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Westbrook of the Washington Wizards in exchange for a first-round pick, two future second-round picks and a host of formerly important players—Montrezel Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavius Caldwell Pope.
With the addition of Westbrook, the Lakers thought they were in a prime position in a tournament, and the bookmakers agreed with them.
Like when the Golden State Warriors brought in Kevin Durant to join Steph Curry and Klay Thompson – a team that won two titles – Lakers fans thought they might have the “Big Three.”
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook: Sounds good, doesn’t it?
However, right from the start, it was clear that things weren’t all rosy.
problem to problem
The Lakers are usually one of the most talked about teams each year in the NBA, but with James and Davis pairing up with Westbrook, season prospects have taken over the airlines.
With endless amounts of hype behind them and fans clamoring to see King, Brow and Brodie for the first time, the Lakers opened the season with a home game against the Warriors.
Despite 34 points from James and 33 from Davis, Los Angeles disappointed its fans with a 121-114 loss.
But this is only the first game, right? They are still preparing.
A convincing home defeat to the Phoenix Suns followed just three days later.
But they are one of the better teams, right? will get better.
you did not. The team went 4-3 in October and 8-8 in November as they struggled for consistency. The Vogel Lakers had previously dined in defense. But this team – with older veteran players and less flexibility – couldn’t count on that.
Offensive cohesion was also lacking.
James and Davis’ relationship has always been key to the Lakers’ success, with other players happy to play their part. Westbrook’s addition didn’t seem to be entirely successful, as another player in control of the ball unsettled the team, with mixed results.
Then on December 17, Davis walked off the field after sustaining a knee injury. It was later confirmed that he had twisted the left MCL.
The removal of Davis – Robin to James Bateman – was a devastating blow to the Lakers.
Davis missed 17 games and made a comeback in late January, but he picked up a right ankle injury that made him miss again.
Without Davis, the Lakers would have been a quality-deprived team, and although James had a dominant season – despite being his 19 in the league – they couldn’t beat it.
In total, the Lakers’ “Big Three” played only 21 games together due to injuries, which limited their chemistry building time.
Their failure to qualify for the post-season, combined with the amount of money and business capital invested in the team, was considered a major failure, and Vogel did not escape his job.
Despite missing the playoffs for only the fourth time in his long and packed career, the 38-year-old James says he has no plans to go anywhere.
“I came here to win a championship and I want to win more,” James told reporters on Monday. “So I accomplished what I wanted to achieve, but I am still hungry for more. I am sure this organization wants the same. That is what this organization has always been about.
“I also wanted to change the narrative and how this franchise could compete at a high level again. They’ve had decades and decades and decades of winning.
But yeah, when I signed up here, when Magic (Johnson) was here and Rob (Belinka) was here – Rob is still here – I told them I wanted to help this franchise become a champion again. I did it, we did it, but I want to do it again.”
New guy in town
Westbrook has been the root cause of most of the team’s problems.
One of the most dynamic players in the league at his peak, Westbrook is a potential Hall of Fame player, but his trade with Los Angeles was his third in four years as he struggles to find a long-term relegation place.
With his big contract commitment – the highest-paid player on the team – and his high commercial price tag, Westbrook was expected to come in and perform.
His presence on the field has been so erratic this year that clips of some of his plays this season have become points of ridicule, with fans even coining him “Westbrick” – a derogatory term used to describe a missed shot that looks ugly. from the edge.
Such was the level of criticism leveled at him and his family that Westbrook came out and asked people to stop using the nickname.
“I kind of let it go in the past because it didn’t really bother me. But it kind of shocked me that day.
“My wife and I were at my son’s parent-teacher meetings. And the teacher told me, ‘Noah, he’s very proud of his family name.'” He writes it everywhere. He writes it all. He tells everyone and he walks around and says, “I’m Westbrook.”
“And I just sat there in shock, and it hit me, like, ‘Fuck. I can’t let people go anymore’ [to besmirch my name]. “
And while Westbrook has had his moments, his future with the team appears uncertain. His massive contract makes it hard to trade him, but his on-pitch harmony with his teammates doesn’t seem to fit in the long term.
However, after the end of the season, Westbrook believes he was never given a fair chance, citing his relationship with Vogel.
With an aging squad and question marks all over the squad, it looks like he’s going to be out of the long season in the City of Angels.