Russell Westbrook sat for tonight’s game against the Nuggets due to a mysterious hamstring injury that he supposedly incurred during the preseason, but which didn’t keep him out of the first three games.
Didn’t matter. The Lakers’ problems go way deeper than just Russell Westbrook.
Don’t get me wrong, he still has to go, he has to be traded. But it’s because it’s starting to look like may actually be able to flip him for some players that would help them become a real, legitimate NBA team that makes sense.
Every other team in the league has guys who can hit shots. The Nuggets were shooting poorly from three in this game, and yet they still won the game because they’re a better basketball team. They rebound better, they hustle better–they just do everything better than the Lakers.
The Lakers have missed so many open threes it’s unbelievable.
As I type this they are 4/20 from three, which is even worse than their shooting percentage from three overall, if you can even believe that. Turns out it can get worse.
They finished 8/30 from three, or 26.7%, which is a slight improvement over their season average, but that’s not saying much.
But still–they shot 26.7% from three and their season average from three went UP.
All you can really do is laugh.
They were tied 54-54 at halftime, but got outscored 32-17 in the third quarter.
They are the worst roster in the league outside of LeBron and AD.
It’s not that the individual guys they have can’t play–in fact, I really like Lonnie Walker a lot, I think he’s been one of the few bright spots for this team–but it’s that they just don’t fit together. They all would probably work fine individually, but as a team they are just incompatible.
This team has no interior size outside of AD. They played Damian Jones 9 minutes through three quarters, meaning the only guys over 6′ 5″ that got real minutes in this game have been LeBron and Anthony Davis.
LeBron started trying to start the fourth quarter. He was playing pretty passively for most of the game but then began attacking the rim in the fourth.
It’s just hard for LeBron to get to the rim consistently when he’s basically being triple-teamed every time he gets the ball. Off-ball defenders abandon their assignments to provide second-level and sometimes even third-level help defense if he gets past his man.
This is because the team has no shooters, so opposing defenders can sag off their assignments to pack the paint.
I was saying in my article about Westbrook that Laker fans cling to the idea that all the team needs to do is trade Westbrook and everything will be fixed. Trade Westbrook and then Championship! Simple as that!
Tonight Laker fans had to confront the reality that the Lakers have way more problems than just Russell Westbrook.
Currently, the Lakers are down 89-82, and LeBron is the only Lakers starter with a positive plus/minus. He’s +2. AD is -13, Pat Bev is -6, Austin Reaves is -20, and Lonnie Walker is -18.
It didn’t last long, though. The Nuggets put their starters back in and then blew the Lakers out of the water.
They just don’t have a chance out there.
The Lakers are not an NBA roster. They’re a total work in progress. There are so many boxes that NBA teams have to check when putting their rosters together, and the Lakers are missing on so many of them.
Shooting, for one. Perimeter size. Interior size.
The Lakers’ starting roster was LeBron, AD, Pat Bev, Lonnie Walker and Austin Reaves.
Notice anything there? They are missing multiple positions. AD plays center, so who’s the power forward? LeBron, because he’s the next tallest player?
Okay, fine, then who’s the small forward? It’s not Pat Beverley or Austin Reaves. And Lonnie Walker, as much as I like him, is 6 foot 4. So LeBron has to be the small forward.
But then, who’s the power forward?
See what I mean? This roster is incomplete.
How do you expect to win games when do not have a real NBA roster?
If you want to go three guards and have a small lineup, you need to have guys who can actually shoot the ball.
You can’t even build a roster like this on 2K. The game will stop you and tell you that you’re not allowed to have that many guards, or that you need to roster more bigs. It will be like “Sorry, you don’t have enough Small Forwards on your roster. Please sign 2 more small forwards to continue.”
You can’t judge LeBron or even AD for how they’ve played this season. You really can’t. This team is incapable of winning games in the modern NBA. It’s just the truth. It’s like trying to race in F1 driving a NASCAR. It’s just not possible. The NASCAR is a fine car but it’s meant for something completely different.
The Lakers don’t have a real NBA roster. Again, nothing against the players as individuals. But they just don’t fit. What you are seeing is the result of building a roster that is completely incompatible with the modern NBA. You need shooting and this team has no shooting. It’s the most slapped together, mismatched roster in the league. It’s like going to a buffet and getting some chicken teriyaki, then some spaghetti and meatballs and then adding some nice chocolate chip pancakes. It’s not cohesive at all. It doesn’t work together. It’s incompatible.
There’s just no way you can win with a roster like this. It just doesn’t fit together.
I see people out there criticizing LeBron and AD. You’re honestly a hack if you do that. You are completely missing the point. There isn’t a single superstar player out there that could win with this roster. Any criticism of the Lakers that doesn’t start and end with the people who built this team is agenda-pushing nonsense. Like if you watched that game and your immediate thought was WELL IF LEBRON AND AD WOULDA PLAYED BETTER! then you’re just a hack. You have no idea what you’re talking about.
Nobody would be able to win with this roster. No superstar player in the league would want to switch places with LeBron and AD. None. Not a single one of them would. Dame has a better and more cohesive supporting cast up in Portland, even after losing McCollum.
Because of the Westbrook contract, the Lakers had very little cap space with which to use to sign shooters. Because shooters are more valuable than ever, all of them were basically out of the Lakers’ price range.
So while you can’t blame Westbrook for loss directly, it all goes back to him ultimately because of his contract. He is making $47 million a year to play like absolute garbage. There is no team in the league that can overcome having the worst player in the league on a $47 million salary. It’s simply not possible. Russell Westbrook’s contract is the reason the Lakers roster is so poorly built.
The only way they even have a prayer is if they do the Pacers trade. Buddy Hield can shoot, and Myles Turner can play the 5 which frees up AD to play his natural position, the 4.
Making that trade is such a no-brainer that only a team like the Lakers would refuse to make it.