The Los Angeles Lakers have won 17 championships, which is tied for the most in NBA history with the Boston Celtics. They are a franchise built on winning from their days in Minneapolis, and it only got more important when they moved to LA. The Lakers are known for their star talent and winning titles.
They have missed the playoffs just 12 times in their first 74 seasons, and the Lakers had never missed the postseason for three straight years until 2016. Playoff basketball was an afterthought for a long time with the Lakers. The only question was would they win the championship?
The Lakers are known for having all-time greats wear their uniform and help them win titles, but who are the best players in franchise history that failed to make the playoffs during their time in the purple and gold? Here is a look at an all-time starting five.
Lakers all-time starting 5: Players who never reached playoffs in LA
PG: Russell Westbrook
Westbrook’s time with the Lakers was an abject disaster. LA was just under one year removed from winning the championship and fresh off a first-round playoff exit when they traded for the nine-time All-Star. They were looking to shake up their roster, and LeBron James wanted Westbrook. The Lakers could have acquired DeMar DeRozan or Buddy Hield, but the franchise chose Westbrook.
The former MVP still produced significant numbers, but the Lakers did not win games. They missed the playoffs in 2022 as they were unable to convince Westbrook to come off the bench. His fit next to LeBron and Anthony Davis was clunky. James and Westbrook both need the ball, and Westbrook struggles to space the floor when he does not have it. LA finished 33-49 in year one, and Westbrook was traded with the team at 25-30 in year two.
His time in LA did not go well, but Russell Westbrook is a future Hall of Famer. He helped the Thunder make the playoffs nine times in 11 years, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012 and four conference finals appearances. Westbrook is an all-time great, who struggled with the Lakers.