The Los Angeles Lakers endured the first test of their perseverance in the 2020-21 season coming by way of back-to-back losses at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons.
L.A.’s play has fluctuated since the campaign’s tip-off, but a 107-92 loss to the Pistons truly exposed the team’s shortcomings. Possibly the biggest one is the lack of in-game chemistry caused by severely limited practice time due to coronavirus (COVID-19) health and safety protocols.
LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma recently said the Lakers do most of their pregame work in the film room and often have to learn different schemes and lineups “on the fly” during games. In addition, the health and safety protocols deprive the players of the invaluable quality time outside of basketball that the Lakers greatly enjoyed before the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka told Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Bresnahan that under current circumstances, it might take more time for the team to truly come together:
“I was talking to Magic the other night about this. Ordinary, you go into a season and it’s probably 20 or 25 games where you get a good litmus test. But in this COVID environment, we’re all citizens of the state of California, we’re all under a lot of restrictions, and the players are too because of the COVID guidelines. What it does to a team, it really keeps you from having those togetherness moments.
“Whether it’s at a restaurant around a table, or watching a football game. So I think it’s going to take a little bit longer to get a real sense, for any team in the league; maybe it’s going to be 30 or 35 games until you get a real sense. I think we’re happy with our progress so far, the new guys and how they’ve molded together. I think there will still be growth and every game we want to get better.”
Before joining the Lakers in the offseason, Montrezl Harrell said he was looking forward to building chemistry with his new teammates “fast.”
And shortly after Opening Night, Anthony Davis revealed that the players got along well and tried to make the most out of the available opportunities to grow closer to one another — which have been limited since due to the NBA tightening its COVID-19 protocols.
Davis explains free throw shooting woes
Davis has particularly been affected by the numerous challenges facing the Lakers this season. The forward has not looked like the dominating All-Star that created arguably the NBA’s most lethal duo alongside James last season.
In particular, Davis has been struggling at the free throw line and shot just 50% in the narrow 107-106 loss to the 76ers. But the 27-year-old said he was neither concerned about his percentage nor the fact it has been taking some time for him to get in shape.
“I’m not worried about [free throw shooting]. I usually go up there and split them,” he said. “We have a long season to go, so just trying to stay physically ready for every night, coming off a short offseason.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!