The Los Angeles Lakers have always been a franchise that prides itself on winning.
Dr. Jerry Buss created the winning culture immediately after buying the team and drafting Magic Johnson in 1979, but despite some incredible championship runs with primetime players over the past few decades, the team is in dire straits after making a bad gamble in the offseason.
Instead of catering to Frank Vogel’s defensive philosophy that paid off with a championship in the bubble a couple of years ago with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Rob Pelinka chose to go in a completely different direction this past summer. They took other deals off the table and went all-in on trading for superstar Russell Westbrook to make another Big 3 in Los Angeles.
Although it was a flashy move that made headlines, it didn’t make much basketball sense. Westbrook had been on four teams in four straight years and began to look like a star teams didn’t want to deal with nor could find the proper role for him that fit his skill set.
In Los Angeles, the addition of Westbrook has turned out to be a monumental failure. It has become arguably the worst trade in franchise history, considering that it could mark the beginning of the end of the LeBron James era in L.A.
Despite some injury issues to Anthony Davis and newcomer Kendrick Nunn having yet to see the floor due to a mysterious bone bruise in his knee, the Lakers haven’t had a reliable excuse for why things have gone wrong this season. There seems to be no chemistry on the floor, resulting in a serious lack of effort and energy.
James may be lighting up the scoreboards on a nightly basis as he continues his quest to pass Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history but has done nothing for this team to increase their chances of winning on a nightly basis. This team can get beaten on any given night by any team that comes to town, which was made painfully apparent in the overtime loss to the lowly Houston Rockets recently.
It all comes down to the lack of effort, and it has gotten bad enough to where the playoffs are a mirage, and Vogel will almost certainly be looking for a new job very soon. It’s another lost season for the Purple and Gold, with an offseason of change potentially on the horizon.
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| Title: Why have the Lakers struggled this season and will they make the playoffs?
| Author: Ryan Ward
| Date: March 21, 2022