As of writing this, the Los Angeles Lakers currently sit at a record of 2-3 and their chemistry has never been more disjointed. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were the dynamic duos of the squad and when healthy, it was clear that they knew exactly how to work together to get wins all while blowing teams out in the process. In the offseason, the team added a ton of role players, while also making a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook, who is known for wanting to take charge on the offensive side of the ball.
Many people questioned this trade and whether or not it would actually work out for the Lakers. The term “too many cooks” came up quite a few times during debates, and it is easy to see why. Having three superstars on one team isn’t always easy to manage, especially when every single player has an alpha mentality. Regardless, Westbrook, Davis, and LeBron all expressed their willingness to play their own roles all while committing to winning, at all costs.
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With everyone on the same page, fans were convinced that the Lakers would be even better than last year and that they would dominate in the early going. As soon as preseason started, the concerns finally began to set in as Westbrook gave up turnover after turnover. His play in the preseason was so putrid that fans were questioning why they even made the deal for him in the first place. While he began to improve, the Lakers didn’t win a single game in the preseason. Considering these games mean nothing, pundits and fans alike were convinced that things would change as soon as they played some real games. Well, as it turns out, nothing much changed. In the first two matches of the regular season, the Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns, despite both outings being winnable games. Turnovers, poor defense, and late-game breakdowns had the Lakers starting the season with an 0-2 record.
The adversity was starting to mount, and just a few days later, they finally got that first win against the Memphis Grizzlies, although it was far from convincing. Ja Morant walked all over the Lakers, and the team couldn’t slow him down. While the Lakers did win the game, they could have very easily lost it if it hadn’t been for some missed free throws at the end. Not to mention, this game came at a cost as LeBron went down with an injury, and has been out ever since. With just Westbrook and AD manning the ship, they managed to squeak out a win against the San Antonio Spurs, although it was barely enough to make people think this is a good team.
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Earlier this week, disaster struck as the Lakers blew a 26-point lead to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and lost, only to fall to 2-3 on the season. The loss was made worse as Westbrook was kicked out for his actions following a last-second dunk by Darius Bazley. It was the manifestation of frustration that had been festering since the preseason, and overall, it was not a good look for the purple and gold.
These performances have some fans thinking that the Lakers should be hitting the panic button. After all, LeBron James is injured, while AD is an injury waiting to happen. Westbrook can’t carry a team by himself, and if that worst-case scenario were to come true, then the Lakers would be in a state of disarray. Despite all of these negatives, the Lakers should keep a level head about this whole situation. After all, there are still 77 games left this season, which is plenty of time for the Lakers to pull it together and get back on the road to redemption.
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If you’ve been watching these first few games, you will quickly realize that a lot of the team’s problems stem from turnovers. A perfect example is the game against the Thunder. Westbrook had himself a triple-double, although he also had a whopping 10 turnovers which allowed the Thunder to stick around in the game. Turnovers are mistakes that can be tightened up with just a little bit more patience on the floor. They aren’t an indication of a lack of skill or chemistry, which should be encouraging for the Lakers. Speaking of chemistry, the players on this roster are still fairly new outside of the core superstars. This is in stark contrast to most teams who have had their core together for quite some time now. Having said that, it should be expected that this Lakers squad would have some growing pains.
The panic button should be reserved for the middle of the season, at the earliest. If the Lakers are still under .500 and are outside of a playoff spot 41 games into the season, then there is clearly a deeper issue at play here. For now, however, it is simply too early to tell whether or not this team is truly in trouble. Once LeBron gets healthy, the Lakers should be in the driver’s seat, and once Westbrook gets his turnovers under control, then the Lakers should find their way back to powerhouse status.