The loss to the Suns certified the failure of a team that started out as title favorites thanks to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Los Angeles Lakers They found themselves Tuesday night with no options to qualify for the NBA playoffs and certifies the failure of a favorite party team under the hand of james lebron and Anthony Davis .
“King James, injured in Tuesday’s final loss to the Suns, missed the playoffs for the fourth time in his nearly two-decade career, and his search for a fifth ring is in question at the age of 37.
Since questioning the signing of Russell Westbrook and the configuration of the team, through injuries and the management of coach Frank Vogel, these are some keys to one of the greatest debacles the NBA has seen in a long time.
Los Angeles Lakers bet on a numbers team and it went wrong
In just two years, the Lakers have gone from proclaiming themselves champions in the “bubble” of Disney World, offering the title in memory of the late Kobe Bryant, to finishing this season probably in eleventh place in the Western Conference.
In between came another lackluster campaign in which they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Suns. Following this disappointment, General Manager Rob Pelinka bet on finding a third star which covered the predictable injuries of veteran James and the frail Davis.
With the approval of both, Pelinka decided to complete the “Big 3” with veteran Russell Westbrook, for which he gave the Wizards a package with three established players (Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell) and a first-round pick. of draft.
Westbrook’s pharaonic contract ($44.2 million this year), as well as those of James and Davis, almost reached the salary limit so Pelinka rounded out the roster with overly inexperienced youngsters (Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves) and veterans on minimal contracts (Camelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza).
Rusell Westbrook wasn’t the answer and became the most-questioned man
As almost all analysts predicted, Westbrook’s style of play didn’t match what the Lakers needed in their third spade.
In a team that revolves around ‘King James’, lack of outside shooting and inability to play without the ball from Westbrook made it difficult for him to complement himself on offense.
A historic triple-double king in the NBA, Westbrook has always been an ubiquitous and exuberant player on the court but At 33, he no longer has the physical superiority of yesteryear and in defense he still has significant shortcomings.
The initial heavy pressure on Westbrook led to criticism and even boos from his own fans, which further complicated the adaptation of the point guard, NBA MVP in 2017.
Team and coaching staff blamed injuries for poor season
The main explanation put forward by the technical staff and the players in the face of the disaster was the scourge of injuries in the locker room.
LeBron James, in his best scoring campaign (30.3 points per game) since 2006, missed 23 games and Davis another 39. Throughout the season, the Lakers’ “Big 3” barely matched on the court in 21 games.
“Our goal was to win a championship, but injuries got in the way,” Anthony Davis summed up on Tuesday.
Vogel built the 2020 champion team from a dominant defense in which a fit and healthy Anthony Davis was the anchor for other specialists like Alex Caruso, Danny Green or Caldwell-Pope.
In this season, management did not provide defensive height options for this group and Vogel also lacked the size to adjust the style of play.