The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2021-2022 season anticipated to compete for a championship. After bowing out within the first spherical of the playoffs final season with superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis battling accidents, the Lakers made a daring transfer by buying and selling for Russell Westbrook over the offseason. LA was removed from an ideal crew, however the path to the NBA Finals seemed broad open within the Western Convention with Kawhi Leonard and Jamal Murray each possible sidelined for the 12 months with accidents. Something lower than one other deep playoff run was all the time going to be a disappointment.
The Lakers actually haven’t seemed like a championship contender to date. By means of the primary two months of the season, there hasn’t been a extra irritating crew within the NBA.
The Lakers have had loads of issues throughout their 16-15 begin. Their offense presently ranks No. 25 within the league and has been dragged down by turnovers and an incapability to rise up sufficient three-pointers. The dearth of wing depth has been a significant difficulty after buying and selling Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for Westbrook. Westbrook himself acquired off to a gradual begin earlier than approaching a bit currently. James has already missed 10+ video games with an stomach pressure, and Davis is now on the shelf himself for at least the next month with a knee strain.
On high of all that, the Lakers are presently coping with a Covid outbreak that left them without six rotation players for Sunday’s sport in opposition to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are, in fact, coping with their very own Covid outbreak that had 10 gamers in protocol final week.
The Bulls won, 115-110, behind one other unbelievable fourth quarter efficiency from DeMar DeRozan — a player who wanted to be in LA before the Lakers chose Westbrook. Whereas it’s unfair to get too upset on the Lakers for shedding a sport with out AD and so many different gamers throughout an outbreak, it’s the means the Lakers misplaced that felt so irritating.
Take this play for instance: did anybody really feel like boxing out Bulls guard Alex Caruso? Apparently not.
Westbrook and DeAndre Jordan ought to have been capable of management that rebound with out a drawback. As an alternative, each simply stood round and watched Caruso get the Bulls one other possession. This has been an issue for the Lakers all 12 months: proper now, they No. 24 within the league in defensive rebounding. It’s even more durable to compete on the glass with out AD and Dwight Howard (who’s in protocol), however that is an instance of simply being lazy.
Caruso was in fact a member of the Lakers’ 2020 championship crew within the bubble. The Lakers may have re-signed him this offseason, but they didn’t want to pay a big luxury tax bill.
Possibly the Lakers will finally determine it out. If James and Davis are absolutely wholesome, they nonetheless could also be the very best 1-2 punch within the league. Westbrook has seemed higher in Dec. The larger drawback could be the emergence of the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns as powerhouse groups within the Western Convention.
If the Lakers don’t repair their points, performs like this one might be how followers keep in mind the 2021-2022 Lakers. That must be motivation sufficient to get it collectively.