The 2022 NBA season has been a complete disaster for the Los Angeles Lakers as it is now officially that they will not be making the playoffs this season after there loss against the Phoenix Suns 121-110. This was a completely disappointing season for the team but what this season should be is a wakeup call for the organization. Thing have to change and now as there were a ton of issues that plagued this season and if things don’t drastically change then it will effect the Lakers Long term.
Durability Issues in Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is one of my favorite players to watch. It is not just the unibrow that makes him stand out, but he is a Top 10 player in the league during his time with the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers. But there is one thing that we all can agree on, Anthony Davis has suffered regression this season. The main reason is simple, Davis can’t stay healthy. Davis has had multiple different injuries that have taken him out multiple games including injuries to his knee, ankle, achilles, foot, and etc. Injuries add up and these durability concerns are going to effect him long term. What stinks is that Davis was suppose to be the piece that was going to carry the Lakers long term when LeBron leaves next season (We will get to that). But this season has made fans question whether he can be that guy. Hopefully next season Davis can remain healthy and perform well next season. On a side note no the Lakers are not trading Anthony Davis during the offseason.
The Failed Russell Westbrook Experiment
Now look I love Russell Westbrook and the way he plays the game of basketball. In fact, I often call him Triple Double Man as he constantly kept getting Triple Double during his time in Oklahoma City. But I said this during his time in Oklahoma City that the way Westbrook plays, he is doomed to suffer massive levels of regression. Which is one of the many reasons why I laughed at the trade that GM Rob Pelinka made to acquire him, as there were even hints of his regression shown during his time with the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards.
My fears of Westbrook have been fully showcased this year. Athletically he has just not been the same as he is getting older as he looks slower and does not have the best jumping ability anymore. He has not the most reliable outside shooter this year as well. Westbrook has also been inconsistent with layups this year. It also does not help that Westbrook has been dealing with injuries this season to his quad, shoulder, back, and knee. It’s not a good sign but not surprising he has these injuries in the way he plays. Im shocked in how much more often he gets hurt.
A big problem with Westbrook is that he is a stat padder. Of course not obvious to understand why as the triple doubles showcase it, but it does not work for an aging declining player like Westbrook. For him in the long term Westbrook has to focus on getting teams in a better position than he is about his own stats. Since the Lakers have acquired Westbrook the experiment with him Anthony Davis and Lebron has just not worked out. His contract won’t help matters too as he still has 47 million dollars on his way next season so it will be tough to move him unless he gets waived.
Consequences for Lowballing Alex Caruso
Alex Caruso was one of the most underrated parts of the 2020 Championship tun for the Lakers. It wasn’t for his offense but how good he was on defense. I mean he was clearly the best defensive player on the Lakers during that run in my opinion. Caruso was a player that should have been kept to help the Lakers long term as he was 27 years old. Caruso was a free agent in 2021 and needed a new contract. The Lakers could of resigned him but the Lakers wanted to bring in a declining Triple Double Man aka Russell Westbrook. The Lakers were already over the salary cap and were entering the luxury tax and the Lakers decided to lowball Caruso. Which is absolutely ridiculous to do as he was the best and most consistent defensive player on the Lakers the last few years. The apparently offered him a 3 year 21 million dollar contract which is way too low for them to offer. The worst part is that Caruso wanted to be in LA and was willing to take less money for his services yet the Lakers still decided to lowball him. My question is this, if the Lakers were so tight in salary and wanted to avoid the luxury tax, then why did they give Horton-Tucker a 3 year 32 million dollar contract?
So Alex Caruso tested free agency and took more money signing with the Chicago Bulls to a 4 year 39 million dollar contract. Caruso has been fantastic for the Chicago Bulls and has been a big reason why the Chicago Bulls are a better team this year. His defense was excellent and since he got lowballed the Lakers have been awful on defense. That is a big consequence for lowballing him and the worst part is that this could have been avoided if the Lakers did not just lowball him. The Lakers lost him for next to nothing as a result and their team suffered as a result this year.
Too Many Ring Chasers
I have been saying this for a few years now regarding the Los Angeles Lakers since they acquired LeBron, this team has way too may ring chasers. Having one or two ring chasers on the team is okay but with the LA Lakers almost half the roster is full of ring chasers, which is a big problem. Worse, excluding the scrubs on the team a majority of the ring chasers are aging declining players. I will go through and list the names D. J. Augustin (34), Trevor Ariza (36), Carmelo Anthony (37), Avery Bradley (31), Wayne Ellington (34), Dwight Howard (36), and Kent Bazemore (32). You know what I will even add DeAndre Jordan who was clearly ring chasing and performed so terribly that the Lakers waived him. At least Jordan still got another opportunity to try and ring chase with the Philadelphia 76ers. That is an insane amount of ring chasers that are on this team and a majority of them have struggled this season. But this has also led to another problem…
Team is Too Old
Like I mentioned a few sentences ago I mentioned the many ring chasers ages. Now add Lebron and Westbrook’s age and oh boy. LeBron is 37 years old and Russell Westbrook is 33 years old. With all these ages it is clear that the Los Angeles Lakers are too old. In fact there median age is at 30.6 which is the oldest one in the NBA and they lead the league in median age. I watched many games of the lakers this season and the team looked slow and lazy this season. When a team is too old it is not good for the future and in the present. That is not a good look for Rob Pelinka who has done a terrible job assembling this team during the last offseason.
LeBron could be gone soon.
This is something not a lot of analysts are talking about but I have a feeling that LeBron could be leaving the Los Angeles Lakers soon. Especially as LeBron’s contract expires in 2023 next season could be his last one with the Lakers. LeBron currently is 37 years old and does not have a lot of years left to play basketball. LeBron will want to win another championship and I don’t see the Lakers being anywhere near championship contenders for next season. I could see LeBron wanting to take his talents to a competitive team so he can win another championship. Plus to add onto it LeBron has been dealing with injuries and the Lakers will want to get some value for him now before loosing him for next to nothing.
Another reason why LeBron will likely be gone soon is that he will want to end his career playing with his son Bronny James. I absolutely believe that this will be the case where LeBron’s last season will be playing with his son. Yes, I know Bronny will be eligible for the NBA Draft in 2024 but lets be real the Lakers will not acquire him in the draft. Why? Remember the Anthony Davis trade, well there 1st Round pick could be New Orleans Pelicans property depending on the choice on which year they want to take LA’s selection (Either in 2024 or 2025). Teams know what will happen as if they draft Bronny they will get LeBron to come play for them. I guarantee even if the Lakers have that pick, if they don’t get a Top 3 pick then teams will overdraft Bronny James for the risk of getting LeBron in the short term. So the Lakers better hope that if Lebron resigns another year in LA that they can get Bronny James on there roster so LeBron can end his career as a Laker.
What Should Come Next
You know what I would do if I am the Lakers this offseason, blow it all up. I seriously don’t see the Lakers winning with this core at all. They should go on a full blown firesale this offseason and offer anybody and everything. Even in the executives board I would blow it up. It is starting already as Frank Vogel will likley be out of a job at the end of the season. Many will disagree with me here (and I get Why), but I would even cut ties with Rob Pelinka as the GM. It stinks because he built the 2020 NBA Championship Lakers team, but looking at the way he has built up former teams and this years lakers it has ended up in disaster.
But on the bright side to a bad season, at least the Lakers will probably get a top 10 draft pick in the 2022 NBA Draft that will help build the team. Oh yeah, I forgot the Lakers 1st round pick is New Orleans Pelicans property due to the Anthony Davis trade. Well that stinks. It will be interesting to see how the Los Angeles Lakers handle the offseason as this season was a complete disaster. The Lakers have to wake up and see the writing on the wall and implement changes to the team.