Lakers fans are stunned this week after Los Angeles dropped out of playoff contention in what should have been a routine game against the Phoenix Suns. The team proved back in February that its management didn’t want to make the hard calls to change the two-year pattern of circling the drain and encouraging selfish, unproductive basketball.
There’s still a week left in the regular season, but the Lakers can only hope to finish in eleventh place, at best. This is a shocking turn for a team that some fans expected to be a force in the postseason. With superstars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Carmello Anthony, the team was the number two seed to make the playoffs. By failing to do so, they become the first NBA team in history to secure a number two seed and finish outside playoff contention.
Many Lakers fans took to social media to voice their frustrations with the team. Some pointed out that this team could have easily secured a playoff spot were it not for constant selfish basketball play and a complete lack of fundamentals.
Some noted that it was probably for the best for the team to fail to make it to the playoffs. After all, if they had managed to sneak past other underperforming teams, they would have simply faced the Suns again in another embarrassing series of games. The Suns would have undoubtedly sent the Lakers packing, just like they did last year.
It’s time for the Lakers to rethink their approach for the 2022-2023 season. The team is spending millions of dollars on its star-studded roster, but none of the teams’ perennial scoring champions are pulling their weight. While the team hemorrhages luxury tax dollars, the Milwaukee Bucks keep making the playoffs on the strength of fundamental basketball and dedicated team players.
Now, with a humiliating season behind them, the Lakers’ front office needs to consider a change in strategy. It’s time for the bloated team to slim its payroll, trade some mainstays, and rebuild itself around young talent. The team only has one more season with LeBron James on his current contract, and the aging superstar has signaled that he’d be open to moving from LA.
What the Lakers need to learn is that big names alone don’t create a playoff-winning basketball team. Players need to work together and make the team greater than the sum of its parts.