The Los Angeles Lakers were widely viewed as legitimate contenders when going into the 2021-22 season. It is easy to see why: they managed to trade for Russell Westbrook to create a big 3, and signed solid veterans such as Carmelo Anthony. Overall, many people viewed their offseason as a home run and expected them to be a good team.
However, the Los Angeles Lakers simply haven't met those expectations thus far, and currently, they have an 8-8 record. There's no doubt that this wasn't the start that many were expecting. While they have missed LeBron James for a few games, a team with Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis should have been able to get more wins on a relatively soft schedule. Anthony Davis has previously claimed that the Lakers won't win a championship if they continue to play at the level they have been.
Paul Pierce has been the latest person to cast doubt on the Lakers' status as contenders. On a recent episode of "What Did I Miss?" with Michelle Beadle, Paul Pierce claimed that the Lakers wouldn't win the championship as currently constructed. (26:15)
They look bad right now. I don't know if they can stay healthy... I don't think they have a chance. The way they playing without LeBron at his age. LeBron can't play 40 minutes like he can and get them through the regular season. If you're asking him to continue to do that and get to the playoffs and carry them, I do not know if that's possible all the way through. This team as constructed cannot win a championship.
It is true that there are some flaws with the Lakers right now, and they definitely do not look like an amazing team without the presence of LeBron James. However, we have also seen contenders start slow and then proceed to figure things out and start winning heavily, so it is possible that we'll see that happen in the near future.
LeBron James could also return soon, and that will certainly uplift the team and make them a better squad. We've seen LeBron James carry imperfect teams before, and perhaps that will be the case once again.