The Los Angeles Lakers' topsy-turvy start to the season continued over the weekend. Just when it looked like the Lakers were starting to click, they suffered two embarrassing defeats to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers.
The loss to the Blazers was really bad, as the Lakers got blown out by a struggling Damian Lillard and Blazers squad. With LeBron James seemingly out for a long period of time, this team is not able to thrive with Russell Westbrook handling the ball.
Westbrook had only 8 points against the Blazers, with yet another bad shooting night. He only made 1 field goal of the 13 he attempted and played a huge role in the Lakers losing the way they did. That is not what they brought him in for.
Despite having two All-Stars on the court with Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis, the Lakers are not able to win games. What has been especially bad this season, is their defense. Over the last two seasons, the Lakers were one of the best defensive teams in the league.
But Westbrook's arrival has changed that, and they're no longer the elite defensive team they used to be. On top of that, Westbrook's turnovers and poor decision-making during crucial stages of the game have caused the Lakers to lose games that they would ordinarily win.
Lakers legend James Worthy spoke about Westbrook and the Lakers' poor start to the season (0:35 mark). While he understands that injuries have affected their selections, the team is just not clicking right now. Westbrook is still struggling and needs time to settle into the team, but the team is really paying the price for it at the moment.
“It seems like we’re going to have to wait a while. This game, it was Portland’s game. Damian Lillard only scored what 4 points the last game out. You know he was going to come back and try to win at home. The Lakers are just they’re not in sync on either end of the floor."
“There’s no excuses but we are missing players. Tucker’s out, Nunn’s out, LeBron a major ingredient, Russ still finding his way through situations. It doesn’t look good. They shouldn’t get outplayed the way they were outplayed. They shouldn’t get outrebounded and things like that. When you’re not in sync it starts to affect mental capacity. Sometimes you’re not ready, you think you are, you’re going through the motions."
“They’re in a tough spot right now without any continuity of players that they can depend on five-six games straight so they can get some type of connection. They don’t have it and it is showing up in games against Oklahoma, it’s showing up against young team like Memphis and it’s showing up just about every game. They got a lot of work to do. A lot of pressure on the coaching staff right to try to create some stability and get some players back on the floor and practice.”
Russell Westbrook himself came out and said that the last few seasons of bouncing from team to team had altered his adjustment process. Carmelo Anthony came out and defended Russ, and said that he will figure it out because historically, he has always done that.
At the moment, the Lakers are looking foolish for trading for Westbrook. The reason they got Russ over Kyle Lowry is that they didn't want to give up Talen Horton-Tucker. But if Westbrook's struggles continue, this may have been a bad choice that the Lakers made.