ESPN Projects Lakers To Finish 2022-23 Season Ninth In West With 42-40 Record
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers ended the 2021-22 season with a humiliating 33-49 record, putting to question their Big 3 experiment.

The Lakers added Russell Westbrook to the LeBron James-Anthony Davis All-Star tandem last summer, hoping to bounce back from their first-round playoff exit in 2020-21. Carmelo Anthony’s arrival and Dwight Howard’s comeback further boosted their title hopes and the fans’ excitement ahead of the new season.

But injuries and a visible lack of chemistry quickly brought the Lakers back to earth with L.A. eventually finishing 10th in the Western Conference, missing out on the postseason. The Purple and Gold have shown they learned from their mistakes, targeting young, talented defenders in free agency.

However, ESPN doesn’t believe the personnel moves the Lakers have done so far this summer significantly move the needle, projecting they will end up in the Play-In Tournament at ninth in the Western Conference with a 42-40 record in 2022-23:

The Lakers stumbled to a 33-49 mark a year ago as LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a slew of other players dealt with injuries while Russell Westbrook had to shoulder much of the load — and the blame. The Lakers enter the new year with a new coach in Darvin Ham, and so far they’ve skewed much younger on their free agency additions.

The Lakers seemingly agree that they have not significantly strengthened their roster with governor Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka saying the franchise’s offseason business is not done yet.

L.A.’s efforts seem to focus on trading Russell Westbrook for Kyrie Irving — but the Purple and Gold reportedly have other options if a deal for Irving never materializes.

Darvin Ham wouldn’t hesitate to bench Lakers players if they don’t embrace new roles

Whether Westbrook remains with the Lakers or not, new head coach Darvin Ham reportedly promised James he “wouldn’t hesitate” to remove [players] from the game if they didn’t embrace the roles they were given.

Ham is believed to have reiterated he will demand “defensive tenacity” from all the players on the Lakers roster.

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