Coming into the season there were very high expectations for the Los Angeles Lakers. After winning 35 games last season and looking much-improved down the stretch, along with signing LeBron James, many viewed the Lakers as a playoff lock and a very dangerous team once they came together.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, after a decent start, injuries took a major toll. James, Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball all missed significant time and the team tumbled down the standings.
Plus, constant trade rumors involving nearly everyone on the roster did little to stabilize things, and it all led to a lack of focus on the court, particularly on defense.
Now with the Lakers currently on the outside of the playoff picture, and time running out to make a run, one NBA executive spoke about the negative impact James has had on the Lakers’ chemistry, via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“He killed the [Lakers’] chemistry,” one NBA executive said. “He shouldn’t have been so public about it. Even during the All-Star draft, he laughed about [wanting Davis to be his teammate].”
There is no doubt that the feeling around the team is much different than how it was a season ago. One thing that couldn’t be questioned was that the team was playing extremely hard for head coach Luke Walton, and were locked in on defense, which is rare for a young group.
The Lakers were still a borderline top-10 defense for much of the earlier part of the season, and the massive drop coincided with Ball’s injury, along with the trade rumors shaking things up. Considering James shares an agent with Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ known target at the deadline, much of the blame will go towards James whether it’s fair or not.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the Lakers’ problems this season and James deserves his share of the blame. How much falls on him is up to interpretation, but when you’re a star his magnitude, things will always come to you first.
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