Why Do the Lakers Suck Now?


What’s the problem?

From one of the most storied franchises in NBA history to the goats (note the lowercase) of the 2022-23 NBA season, the Lakers have truly done it all. Many fans of the Lakers have been disappointed with their 2020s era and how they have steadily declined in performance. During the game versus the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers won 146-141 going into final OT—and yes, the Nuggets are very good, but the Lakers should not be winning games by a thread. As expected, a bad year brings with it a lot of gossip about the Lakers roster and how badly it’s built. Many people speculate that the Lakers adding Russell Westbrook to the roster was a terrible move, since Anthony Davis and LeBron James were the star players on the team. Davis and James, of course, exemplify another major problem with the Lakers of this decade: injuries, which have plagued the LA roster over the past few seasons, not the least with these two specific players. Last year, both were injured at unfortunate times, and the Suns surged ahead of them in the first round of the playoffs after Davis took an injury to the groin. It is no surprise that the Lakers are now 2-10.

What can the Lakers improve on?

I think that Russell Westbrook is an amazing player . . . but I also believe that Westbrook does not belong with the Lakers. It makes him look worse as a player, since Westbrook was once in regular conversation for MVP honors and is now synonymous with garbage. Given that this is a LeBron James team, they need to surround him with shooters so he can play his best basketball. We’ve already seen how LeBron and Davis play well together, and the Lakers have reaped substantial benefits from the LJ/AD combination. During the 2019-2020 season, James shoveled Davis 86 assists, which is a tremendous amount of teamwork, but that requires Davis to stop getting injured. For obvious reasons, without someone on the other end to receive LeBron’s passes, he’s not nearly as effective. He needs someone who has fresh talent, whom LeBron trusts would be great, especially if AD is likely to get dropped shortly.

One thing that the Lakers can improve on is their motivation. Usually, LeBron is guilty of throwing a fit or smacking the ball, just because he blames it on someone else, and it feels like so much excuse-making from a player of his stature. Davis on the other hand, is usually not paying attention to the hoop, or does not push his limits as much as he used to, perhaps out of fear of more injury. Sometimes he is legitimately facing away from the ball, which I don’t need to tell you contradicts Basketball 101. If the Lakers had better motivation on their team, they could reach new heights. New talent on the team would also be very good, because younger players tend to have a spark in them that always pushes them to their limits.

What would be the outcome?

If the Lakers adjusted to my ideal fixes, they would almost certainly walk away with the championship. The Lakers were expected to be one of the highest-performing teams for the 2022-23 season, but so far they have been utterly disappointing. The call to put Westbrook on a team that is not helping his own career and replace Kyle Kuzma in doing so, was a terrible decision by head coach Darvin Ham. The sheer amount of potential that the Lakers would have had if they didn’t put Westbrook on the team would be unparalleled.

Whom should the Lakers draft?

At the moment, I have no clue who the Lakers should pick. However, they should look into a recruit like Keyonte George, a freshman from Baylor, who is a excellent shooting guard. He was the No. 3-ranked player in the 2022 class by ESPN, making him the highest-ranked recruit in program history. George’s ability as an all-around shooter is great, because his grit makes him able to score points and he is committed to playing the game fairly. He can score points when an offense is still in progress and can knock jumpers from across all three positions on the court. If someone like Keyonte gets scouted, then the Lakers could actually make a comeback.