The Lakers still have not figured things out and it’s getting ugly
Currently in the hot seat are the Los Angeles Lakers and it’s not getting pretty.
As one of the most famous teams in basketball – people want to know why their beloved team is off to yet another rough start. The “Showtime Lakers” lost to the Warriors (2-1), Clippers (2-1), and now the Trail Blazers (3-0).
What happened last night?
After losing Sunday night, it is clear the struggle for the Lakers is on the offense side of the ball. Point guard Russell Westbrook, shooting 28.9 % this season, was in charge of many miscues down the stretch.
Late in the game, Westbrook was being guarded by Blazers center Jusuf Nurkić when he decided to go for a two-for-one opportunity with 30 seconds remaining. Westbrook missed the 16-foot jumper and gave the Blazers just enough chances to steal the win.
How Portland got it done
“I wanted to keep Nurk [Nurkic] out there for rebounding purposes and even offensively, you know, he came up with a big layup in a big part of the game. But putting him on Russ [Russell], you know, we’re just going to play off of Russ in that moment. And if they come together, we’re just going to go over the screen and allow the offense to see what they were going to do with it,”said Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups to the media after the win.
These are not words you want to hear if you are a Lakers fan. Westbrook, who is being paid $44 million, was shut down by a center in last night’s affair. Westbrook’s shooting mishaps allow opponents to clog the paint, forcing them to take jump shots from the outside – which does not seem to be their forte.
The Lakers’ biggest issue
Through three games, the Lakers have the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage per 100 attempts in the history of the NBA. The best shooter behind the arc is LeBron James, at 25.9%. After losing to the defending champions in game one, James went on record pointing out this obvious flaw:
“I think we’re getting great looks, but it also could be teams giving us great looks. I mean, if we’re completely honest, we’re not a team that is constructed of great shooting. That’s just the truth of the matter. It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team,”James told reporters after the loss.
Those are powerful words from the captain, who is seeking his fifth NBA championship. At 37-years-old, many believe it is safe to say LeBron’s championship aspirations can be put to rest if general manager Rob Pelinka does not make immediate changes to this roster.
How outsiders are reacting
The Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 1st-round picks are available for trade, leaving many of the “Laker Faithful” hopeful of a package deal. A transaction including draft picks and Westbrook, who many feel is responsible for the Lakers’ struggles thus far.
“You don’t have any shooters. That’s really what the bottom line is, and as a result of that, you are incredibly inferior. You looked at the Los Angeles Lakers last night; they looked like a team that knew they did not belong on the same court as a championship squad. They looked woeful as far as I’m concerned,”Stephen A. Smith told the NBA Countdown show.
NBA insider for ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski, told the NBA Countdown show what he believes the Lakers plan to do with their team moving forward:
“The expectation is there’ll be more sellers this year; you start to see the asking price and trades go down. It’s supply and demand. So, expect the Lakers, you know, to get to that 20-game point where teams kind of reach an inflection point about how they want to proceed and then see what might really be available to help improve this Lakers team.”– Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN
What is next?
After finishing the 2021-22 regular season in 11th place with a 33-49 record, Lakers fans do not want to wait any longer.
With the most finals appearances at 32, the Lakers find themselves in what seems now to be familiar territory – outside the playoff hunt.
The Lakers will try to earn their first win Wednesday, Oct. 26, when they travel to take on former MVP Nikola Jokić and the accompanying Denver Nuggets.