Nba, Los Angeles Lakers: the 5 reasons for the failure of 2021-22

Los Angeles is facing the worst disaster in its history: here are the reasons that caused it

Davide Chinellato

& commat; dchinellato

The Lakers were the favorites for the title early in the season. They will not even do the Play-In, the tournament that assigns the last two places to the playoffs. It is the most sensational flop in the history of a franchise that less than two years ago, in the bubble, celebrated its 17th title. It comes in a season where LeBron James, 37, is competing for the title of top scorer. And that the Lakers will close out of the top 10 teams of the Western Conference.

The fiasco of the stars

James’s numbers weren’t enough

LeBron James was sitting on the bench while Anthony Davis with one foot and Russell Westbrook tried to avoid the defeat of Phoenix, the seventh in a row, which sanctioned the resounding failure of the Lakers, even out of the Play-In. The three stars in July had made an iron pact, to play together and transform the Lakers into a title team. Their words, however, never turned into facts on the pitch: LeBron James played an exceptional season on an individual level, which will close with his maximum points since 2006 (30.3), Anthony Davis, thanks to injuries, will not was never the one of the bubble, Russell Westbrook never found his place in what should have been the Big Three. True, the three have only played together in 21 out of 79 games and there remains the regret of understanding what they would have been like with some time to work on it. But the record in those 21 games is 10 won and 11 lost: something didn’t work right away, also because the three were surrounded by too many veterans. And the Lakers paid dearly.

How many injuries

Alibi but not the only reason

The Lakers have had more starting quintets, 39, than victories, 31, up to this point of the season. “Our goal was the title and I am convinced that we had everything it took to be special. Then the injuries got in the way, ”said Anthony Davis after the Phoenix defeat. He, on the men’s franchise card with LeBron, missed 39 out of 79 games due to injury; James has lost 23, in turn all or almost all the supporting actors of the Lakers have remained out for reasons ranging from coronavirus to muscle woes. It is difficult to find continuity like this, with a forced change of rotation every time the team seemed to have found the continuity it takes to be special. “I would have liked to have seen the whole team, even if there is no certainty of what we would have been. I hope we’ll have a chance to find out, ”said Westbrook. He alone, Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony have played at least 65 games this season. Injuries are certainly an alibi, but by themselves they are not enough to explain a flop of such proportions.

The Westbrook case

Scapegoat over demerits

With 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists, 2021-22 will go on file as one of Russell Westbrook’s worst career seasons. The fans have long ago made him the scapegoat, the fault of that trade that revolutionized the roster in the summer to bring it to Los Angeles. The 33-year-old certainly has several faults, first of all that of never having found his place on the roster and of not having accepted, as he had promised in July, to take a step back to integrate with LeBron and Davis, the co-stars. of him. However, he pays many faults not his, such as the inability to exploit his characteristics or the clashes with coach Vogel that soon made him a fish out of water in the locker room, one that the other two stars did not help. Westbrook has made a lot of mistakes, but it’s not just his fault that the Lakers have failed.

All of Vogel’s mistakes

The coach will pay for everyone

Injuries are also a mitigating factor for him. But in the 39 different starting quintets that the Lakers fielded there is also the hand of Frank Vogel. The coach has never been able to give an identity to his Lakers, to understand which players performed best around LeBron, Davis and Westbrook. He had built the success of 2020 on defense and adaptability, he couldn’t find a way to replicate that formula. And compared to the season closed in the bubble, he also lost the role of leader of the locker room, also thanks to the head-on clash with Russell Westbrook. It was supposed to jump at the end of November but the Covid emergency blocked his exemption and when it ended it was too late. He will say goodbye at the end of the season, after 3 years in which he gave the Lakers a title, paying for everyone’s mistakes.

Wrong choices

And starting again will be very hard

Lakers had been revolutionized in the summer, with only 3 confirmations compared to 2020-21. The regular season was supposed to allow a completely new roster to find an agreement in view of the playoffs, where talent and experience would make the difference. It didn’t happen and now the Lakers have to make a revolution without the weapons to do it: with the market in the hands of Klutch Sports, the agency that represents LeBron and Davis, Westbrook becomes the only expendable star. But the Lakers won’t even have a choice in the talented Draft: it will end in Memphis or New Orleans. On the payroll for 2022-23 there are already 7 players for a total of 149 million dollars: 129.5 are for Westbrook, James and Davis, with Russ on the payroll for 44 million, an off-market contract. Being reborn will be very hard.

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