While the Los Angeles Lakers have lurched from one disaster to another throughout the current season, with major loss coming after major loss, doing far worse than even the lowest expectations for the world famous team, it’s worth noting that LeBron James has still weighed in with great performances and has displayed a fighting spirit that seems to have vanished among his teammates.
Frank Vogel’s team has fallen so dramatically from both their extremely high levels of previous seasons and their more humble expectations at the start of the season that they may well now find themselves dropping out of contention for even the ‘play-in’ tournament, which now seems their only realistic route to the post-season. This is a major disappointment to all fans of the team and will no doubt have them scratching their heads wondering just what on Earth happened to one the NBA’s most legendary teams.
The Lakers started the season as the second favorite on most sports betting odds comparison services, for more details check sidelines.io, but now they are as low as (+5000), and their most recent run of poor form leaves them with a 27-34 record for the season. This is a shocking fall from grace that is sure to have major repercussions for the team going forward. Heads will undoubtedly roll.
So what happened exactly to a team that had those kinds of odds going in to the season and was once the home of Michael Jordan? Messing up a game or two is one thing, but a whole season? Surely not.
A large part of why the Lakers have done so very terribly throughout this season is that the great LeBron James has missed a big chunk of the season due to a knee injury that kept him on the bench, but when the 37-year-old has been available, he’s made a huge difference to the team, giving them a boost when they needed it most. At one point, he was the Lakers’ top-scorer for 18 games straight, but, unfortunately, however great he has been as always, he simply isn’t getting the support from those team mates around him. Basketball is a team sport and no matter how good a team’s star player is, they can never fully make up for bad performances from their team mates.
Most notably and most disappointingly of all, new addition Russell Westbrook just hasn’t helped matters at all; even though he arrived as something of a potential savior for the campaign but as yet, he hasn’t come close to realizing what he is capable of. This was not something that anyone saw coming as Westbrook has been a major up and comer for years, delivering his previous teams to victory time and time again. It’s not clear what has been wrong with Westbrook this season, but that he isn’t working out either certainly points to faulty team dynamics that has dragged all but the best players down.
Even after all of this, though, and no matter how much the rest of his team has let him down, LeBron James insists he has still not given up on his team or the season, staunchly stating;
“We still have games to play,” adding with his usual self-confidence, “until you stomp me out, cut my head off, bury me 12 feet under, then I got a chance. So that’s my confidence.”
Injuries have seen the 18-time NBA All-Star pick miss a whopping 17 games this season that has clearly thrown off his team and led to defeat after defeat after defeat. He’s currently playing, in fact, with a serious knee injury, such is his commitment to the cause, and he’s made it clear he won’t take time out to recover, even if most doctors agree that he probably should:
“The only way it’ll be back to full strength is with rest,” he unabashedly admits, but that doesn’t change the situation at hand. “I don’t have the luxury of having rest. So it’ll wait ’til the offseason.”
The fan-favourite Lakers were actually booed off court after the mauling they got by the New Orleans Pelicans on their home patch, which must have further shaken an already pretty shaken team. Their display against the Dallas Mavericks was a little better, admittedly, but it was nonetheless a tenth loss in their last 13 games, which has gone a long way to convincing even the most loyal fans that they’re a lost cause this season.
Despite this and despite his own disappointing performance this past season, Westbrook has also looked to strike a confident tone after yet another loss;
“Super confident that we’re going to be all right,” he boasts with a confidence that is certainly not shared by his fans.
“I’ve got confidence in this group like I always have. And we can play the best teams. I’m not worried about nobody we have to play. We’ve beaten the best teams; we’ve lost to some of the worst teams. So, our confidence and my confidence in this group is extremely high because I know what we’re capable of when we put our mind to it and do exactly what we need to do on a night-in, night-out basis.”
Only time will tell if this is just talk, but it’s not looking great. However much he has boasted about the prowess of his team, they have not, as of yet, earned that sort of belief. Words are one thing, actions quite another. And if there is one thing that is for certain, the Lakers’ stars need to let their playing talent do the talking from here on in if they truly want to salvage what’s left of their reputation.
Even with all this, though, there is actually still a bit of time to save the Lakers season from the jaws of abject defeat, but it will require a severe shift in form from now on. Is it too late to bring that form back? That remains to be see, but if ever there was a team to beat impossible odds, it’s this one.