The Los Angeles Lakers expectations coming into this season were massive with the signing of LeBron James, so it’s very disappointing for Laker fans to see their side struggling this much so far.
LeBron James is coming off eight NBA Finals appearances in a row so everyone knows that the superstar can certainly carry teams very far. However, his first season in L.A just looks very different, the side is really struggling defensively, and LeBron doesn’t seem to be as damaging as usual. There’s a very serious chance that this team fails to make the playoffs this season which would be a massive underachievement and something that would hurt James to take.
Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room believes that LeBron may be part of the problem with the lack of effort and intensity that is required.
"LeBron rarely exerts himself beyond a casual jog in transition defense and disregards spot-up shooters in most half-court situations, leaving them wide open," Pete Zayas said. "His defensive game these days resembles a disinterested center rather than the high-end wing defender that he once was."
When looking at the statistics, LeBron has had yet another great year, averaging 24.6 points per game with 10.4 assists and rebounds to go with it. Clearly, the Lakers are a much better side when he is around but with the talents that James possesses, he could be doing a lot more to help the team perform much better, especially on the defensive end.
According to Eric Pincus of the Bleacher Report:
Per NBA.com, in 165 of James' 263 minutes since his return (62.7 percent), the Lakers have a negative net rating. The team's current starting lineup with Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, Reggie Bullock and James is giving up 116.2 points per 100 possessions over four games. For reference, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the worst defensive rating in the league at 115.9.
The Lakers have put a lot of their eggs in the basket of gaining more stars to play alongside James but that has unfortunately backfired. Anthony Davis was the main one that they expected to be able to trade for before the deadline. Although Davis was very keen on playing in L.A, the Pelicans have decided to wait until the end of the season before choosing what team to deal with.
Players like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were all rumored to be interesting in signing with the Lakers preseason, if the side just had one of those stars, it could be an entirely different team.
Unfortunately for this current Lakers team, many of the players may feel not feel entirely welcome here anymore due to a lot of their names being thrown around as trade bait for Davis. LeBron was willing for many of his teammates to be traded away for a big fish, the team chemistry may very well be affected because of this.
There’s still plenty of time left in the season for the Lakers to secure a spot in the playoffs, ideally they would like to finish at least 7th otherwise a dreaded match up against the Golden State Warriors may await them.