The Lakers are sinking


Liam Nance, Contributing Writer

The NBA season has been going on for over three weeks now, and one of the most disappointing storylines so far this year has been the slow start of the Los Angeles Lakers. Through Nov. 12, the Lakers have a pitiful record of 3-10 despite high expectations of this team at the beginning of this season and in the past.

According to CBS Sports, Caesars Sportsbook had the Lakers as the ninth most likely team to win the title this season with odds of 18-1. In addition, going into the 2021-2022 season with largely the same team, they were nearly the title favorite. According to Fox Sports, they had the second best odds in the NBA to win the title going into the 2021-2022 NBA season with odds of 5-1. Many people saw their star-studded team with all time great LeBron James, former 1st team All-NBA big Anthony Davis, and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, and immediately thought of them as an obvious title contender. However, through 13 games they are tied for the worst record in the NBA. So, what factors have led to this disastrous start for a team that seemed poised for greatness?

The first factor that leads to this disastrous start is their lack of any sort of shooting. The ability to shoot has become a necessity in the NBA and is something that is needed to be a competent team. Being able to shoot not only helps a team’s offense by putting points on the scoreboard, but it also spaces out the court allowing others to drive into the paint much easier. However, throughout the season, the Lakers have looked like the worst shooting team in the NBA.

So far this season, the Lakers have shot a putrid 30 percent beyond the arc compared to the 35.5 percent league average. This may not seem like a big difference, but that is worth about three points per game or the difference between the 10th and 18th best offense in the NBA. That, combined with the lack of spacing that comes with this awful shooting, has resulted in the Lakers having the worst offense in the NBA this season.

The second factor that leads to this drastic underperformance by the Lakers to start the season is the regression of their star players. One metric to determine a player’s performance on the court is their player efficiency rating (PER). PER adds up all of the information from a player’s box score in order to determine a rating for that player, with an average rating being a 15.

All three of the Lakers stars have seen a notable decline in this metric compared to the rest of their careers. James has averaged a 27.3 PER throughout the course of his career, but that has cratered all the way down to 20.2 this season. Davis and Westbrook have seen similar declines with Anthony Davis falling from a 26.8 career PER down to 24.8 this year, and Russell Westbrook going from a 22.5 PER all the way down to 16.4 this year.

The main reason why many people thought that the Lakers could win a title this year was because they believed in their stars, but so far they have all fallen far short of the lofty expectations that many people attributed them. Any team having three future first ballot Hall of Famers should be competing for championships, not struggling to make the Play-In.

The third and final factor that has led to the Lakers disappointing start this season is their lack of talent around their three stars. Their next six players according to minutes played, including players such as an ancient Patrick Beverley and a sophomore Austin Reaves are not giving the Lakers stars the help that they desperately need. These players are averaging a PER of 9.4. This disastrous number is well below the league average PER of 15 and indicative of the total lack of talent from the role players on this team.

In summation, the Lakers slow start to this season has been caused by a variety of factors. The most prominent among them being their lack of shooting, regression of their stars, and subpar supporting players. If things don’t change soon, they will have to climb uphill to even make the Playoffs.