Team chemistry was hard to come by for all 30 teams during the 2020-21 season due to the health and safety protocols that prevented gatherings and other off-court events. The Los Angeles Lakers were particularly hit hard as they also struggled to find any chemistry on the court due to injuries.
Players were seemingly in and out of the lineup every game, and that ultimately came back to bite them in the playoffs.
Jared Dudley believes chemistry was an issue for the entire league, but was not the primary reason the Lakers were unable to defend their crown. “Small factor because we all had to deal with it, every team,” explained Dudley. “Small factor in a sense for us just like team dinners, probably if you had to count last year doing 15, we probably had like one or two this year. So just of a chemistry getting to know people, you family, wives, girlfriends having out, stuff like that makes it easier at home.
“Just small factors, for us, we had bowling events, different stuff, Bron had his birthday, Halloween gettogether, it makes it more of a family. Stuff that Rob Pelinka does in this organization for families and stuff like that.”
Dudley would then go on to compare the difference in chemistry from this year’s Lakers team compared to the won that won a championship last year.
“It’s small, but last year was a different team. That team won a championship, that team had Hall of Famers. Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, one of the smartest basketball minds, Danny Green, champion, JaVale McGee, champion with a pedigree. These were people who were trying to find ourselves. Montrezl Harrell, Sixth Man of the Year, Dennis, runner-up now becoming a starter, Drummond getting a buyout and not playing for Cleveland for a month or two months and then coming to us. It was a lot of different factors and then through injuries, I wouldn’t say we navigated it well, I thought the chemistry was good not great in a sense of it wasn’t any particular player’s fault, it was a situation with COVID of what you could and couldn’t do.”
Dudley, who hopes to return to the Lakers, feels they will be able to build better chemistry next season with pandemic restrictions no longer in place.
“So I can’t wait until next season when guys can be able to really buckle down and hang out with each other, stuff like that. I remember before we won a championship, Bron had us go to Vegas and had our own little boot camp, tell us our roles. We didn’t have all that time. But that’s not the reason why we lost, definitely not. It was just the injury bug and not being able to come together and be right at the end.”
Dudley is right in that injuries were the cause of their early postseason exit, so getting healthy will be a priority for the team in the offseason. As to who comes back, it is anyone’s guess but Anthony Davis has already expressed he would like most of the roster back if possible.
Dudley wants to come back next season
Like most of the roster, Dudley expressed that he is committed to returning to the Lakers once free agency begins.
“1,000%. Come on man, they need me,” Dudley said. “They need me like I need them. Come on.”
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