BY CRISTIAN SANDOVAL
To say the Lakers season has been unsuccessful is an understatement. With three games left in the season, the Lakers are currently sitting in 11th place of the Western Conference with a record of 31-48.
This will be the second time the Lakers will miss the playoffs since LeBron James’ arrival to L.A. in 2018. According to the Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Los Angeles Lakers were selected as the odd favorites to win the 2022 NBA championship ahead of teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns.
During the offseason, the Lakers acquired All-Star guard Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. This choice received mixed reactions all over the basketball world, as many viewed Westbrooks’ style of playing would not fit in with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers would go on to sign veteran players Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, who were part of the 2020 championship run with the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony, and Trevor Ariza all of who are future Hall of Famers and near the end of their basketball careers. On paper, this Lakers team looked to be unbeatable and not to be messed with.
But the Lakers season didn’t start as the purple and gold would hope for and things didn’t get any better. LeBron James suffered an injury at the beginning of the season that kept him out for eight games in which the Lakers went 3-5 and were sitting with a record of 10-10 in the first 20 games of the season.
It was very visible early on in the season that the Westbrook trade really wasn’t going to work out. Turnovers were a clear issue with Westbrook as he leads the NBA in turnover this season. His selection of shots during the game didn’t help out either, and everyone began to question if Westbrook should even be the starting point guard for the Lakers and instead come out from the bench.
Another problem the Lakers have dealt with this season is Anthony Davis’ injuries throughout the whole season. The power-forward has only played 40 games this season. Davis went down with an MCL Sprain injury in December and missed 17 games. Davis was able to come back in late January but suffered a mid-foot sprain in mid-February that kept him sidelined until the beginning of April just as the Lakers were fighting to be in the play-in tournament.
Before the All-Star break in February, the Lakers were in a good position to be part of the play-in tournament with a record of 27-31. After the All-Star, break the Lakers completely collapsed. The Lakers have only managed to win four games and have lost 17 giving them the second-worst record since the All-Star break.
The Lakers experienced a similar situation back in the 2012-13 season when the Lakers acquired All-Star center Dwight Howard and two-time MVP, Steve Nash, to play alongside Kobe Bryant. The Lakers struggled all season long and were in jeopardy of missing the playoffs but eventually secured the seven-seed spot that put them in the Playoffs. Unfortunately with three games left in the season, Kobe Bryant tore his achilles in a game versus the Warriors, and the Lakers were eventually eliminated in the first round of the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers weren’t able to secure a spot for the play-in tournament and have completely wasted LeBron James’ year 19 in the league. This team was badly assembled from the beginning. The majority of this team was signed under one-year deals and most of them won’t be returning to play next season.
The Lakers have nothing to look forward to in the draft for next season as they have no access to 1st round picks until the year 2026. Coach Frank Vogel will most likely not be returning as the head coach of the Los Angeles and the Lakers will have to completely shake up their roster for next season.
BY CRISTIAN SANDOVAL