The Los Angeles Lakers are out to an 11-11 start this season and they have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA. While they were without LeBron James for some time with an abdominal injury, there is no legitimate reason why the team is playing as bad as they have played thus far this season.
An 11-11 record might not seem like the end of the world but anyone who has followed the Lakers this season knows it has not been pretty. The Lakers have had a fairly easy schedule thus far this season (the fifth-easiest according to Basketball-Reference) and ranks poorly in the important advanced metrics that good teams typically rank well in.
The Lakers rank 24th in the league in B-R’s Simple Rating System, ranking right ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and right below the Memphis Grizzlies. Not great company. The Lakers also rank 22nd in the league in net rating and have nine of 13 players with a negative Box Plus/Minus this season (meaning they are below average).
That’s not great, especially considering we are a quarter of the way through the season. Some may think that some fans are overreacting to this slow start but even LeBron James seemingly knows that this Lakers team is mediocre. His comments after the Lakers’ win over the Detroit Pistons tell the entire story (h/t CBS Sports).
"“[This season] ranks right at the top of any other challenge I’ve had in my career, which actually brings out the best in me and I love that,” James said. “I love trying to figure out how we can be better, get through the mud, get through the adversity, and just making it sweeter on the back end. I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface on what team we can be. We’re gonna continue to get better and better as we continue to learn each other more and more, continuing to work into our system offensively and defensively.”"
LeBron James’ comments on the Los Angeles Lakers should not be taken lightly.
Obviously, LeBron James ends his comments on a positive note saying that he is excited about the team getting better throughout the season. That is media talk. He is not going to outright come out and bash his teammates after the slow start to the 2021-22 season.
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The fact that he calls it one of the biggest challenges of his entire career should be worrying about the prospects of this team. Let’s not forget that LeBron played on some really bad Cleveland Cavaliers teams, essentially carrying them to the NBA Finals in both 2007 and 2018. Both of those teams are subpar and presented massive challenges.
LeBron is not as young as he used to be and that is part of the challenge as well. He has already dealt with two separate injuries this season and while he had defied father time thus far, the entire reason why the Lakers lost in the playoffs last season was that Anthony Davis got hurt and LeBron wasn’t 100% with his ankle.
LeBron didn’t even mention his ankle in the quote. That is definitely part of the equation, but based on how he ended the quote, it seems like he was talking more about the quality of the team and how the pieces fit together.
The Lakers were considered the bonafide favorites in the Western Conference and fans (ourselves included) bought into the depth and starpower of this team. It shouldn’t be some massive challenge for this group of players to win basketball games.
The fact that it is, and LeBron James is telling us that, reveals all we need to know about the status of the Los Angeles Lakers.