What in the World is Wrong with the Lakers?
What if I told you that one of the highest profile rosters in the NBA is starting to fight for their playoff lives? The Los Angeles Lakers, a team that has the likes of Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, is currently sitting in 8th place in the western conference with a record of 23-24. Like many others, I am utterly baffled at how arguably the most talented team in the NBA can barely maintain a playoff spot. Here is why they could be underperforming so badly.
Underwhelming Numbers from Key Players
If you are somewhat knowledgeable about professional basketball, you know this is a shot at Westbrook. To start this off, he has not exactly played horrifically bad. However, the Lakers organization and everyone else expects him to be better. He currently is averaging 18 points a game, in and of itself not bad at all, but it’s not ideal for this team in pursuit of a title. He has not averaged below twenty since 2010, his second year in the league. Russell also has the highest turnover average on the team with 4 a game which is about one higher than any other player. In order for Los Angeles to make more of an impact down the road this season. They are going to need Russ to step up his game if they want to have any shot at getting back into the title talk. If Westbrook gets back to his “triple double king” days he had in Oklahoma City, watch out, the Lakers would be very much back in the mix for a championship. However, we have yet to see it.
Compared to other teams in the league, the Lakers have been pretty fortunate to not have many injuries or players get sent into the covid protocol. One of the few victims is star player Anthony Davis who suffered a MCL sprain. He has missed two games which does not seem like a huge deal at first glance. However, the lack of scoring from the bench at the forward position is horrific to watch. The trio of Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, and Trevor Ariza have been severely poor with scoring the basketball. They currently average 5, 4, and 3 points a game respectively. The lack of a somewhat compatible replacement for Davis has taken the Lakers back down through the rankings. Thankfully for them, they are likely to see their star forward return to the court shortly.
Could head coach Frank Vogel be the issue?
In times of crisis like these, leaders need to step up. Coach Vogel needs to find a way to rally his team. He has been Los Angeles’s coach since 2019 and his career with the Lakers has been up and down. He climbed the top of the mountain with his team in the bubble in 2020 winning the title. However, following that season, the Lakers fell off the cliff. Now, in Vogel’s third year, the team is fighting for a playoff spot deep into the month of January. It is hard for a coach to get a team with unparalleled potential back to the top of the league once they are so far behind. I think a key thing for Vogel to do is rebuild the artistry he put together in 2020 on a run to the franchise’s seventeenth championship. The Lakers are a team rich in NBA glory and history that has had many superstars in the past and even now in the present. With all the stars lined up together like this, the expectation is to win, especially in LA. Vogel needs to kick his team back into gear in order to keep the winning tradition in Tinseltown alive. Honestly, his job may just depend on it.
Los Angeles’s next game on tap is tonight in Brooklyn against a dangerous Nets team.