The Lakers’ Offseason has Reason for Concern

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The Lakers have added Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony this offseason at LeBron James’ behest. With nicknames like The King and The Chosen One, James’ vision holds sway within the organization.

James would reject these types of accusations. He’s just a player and has marginal voice in the management. But we know that’s not exactly true.

And we also know that Westbrook and Anthony are friends with James. Who wouldn’t want to play with their friends? Even at the expense of the team’s coalescence and chemistry? But the King does what he wants, and you trust his vision—always.

There are a few tenets of championship-caliber basketball: shooting, chemistry, and playmaking. This paradigm has held true for every James-led team. The pick and roll, and drive and kick have always been his bread and butter.

Westbrook and James are capable of operating in the pick and roll. No issues. Fellow teammates, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard are generational alley-oop threats.

What about the drive and kick? I can hear it now: “LeBron drives, passes it to Westbrook on the wing. They’re letting him shoot. No hesitation, he shoots. Back Rim! No good. Clippers Win 101-100.”

Westbrook is a 30.5% three-point shooter for his career. With the current three-point infatuation that has characterized the modern game, that’s tantamount to a 30.5% percent chance to win the game.

But dude, the triple doubles. In all honesty, Westbrook has brought the notion of a triple double into disrepute because he hasn’t exactly translated them to winning basketball. Last year, he eclipsed Oscar Robertson for the record of most triple doubles, so there wouldn’t be an incentive to stat-pad on this new team.

Westbrook has been chastised by media for refusing to compromise his stats for the sake of his team. Stats are easier to accumulate on worse teams. This is obvious. Westbrook joining a strong Laker team demonstrates his willingness to defer when needed.

But his voluminous scoring and assisting are natural for him. Can you really ask a player to go against the grain, especially when that’s how he’s made his money?  You can try, and the Lakers will certainly have to.

“The current arrangement of the Lakers needs to be fixed. It is too unorganized to be successful,” senior Siddhant Srivastava said, referring to the redundancy in Westbrook’s skillset on a LeBron James-led team.

In the Lakers’ defense, there is an ostensible hierarchy of basketball ability on the Lakers. James’ 1st of course, hence his referral to The King, The Alpha, The Goat. Anthony Davis is 2nd and Russell Westbrook is 3rd. But it becomes a little more ambiguous down the gradation.

Carmelo Anthony 4th? Maybe Malik Monk? Or Kendrick Nunn? Normally compartmentalizing down to the 4th player would be negligible, but Anthony isn’t an ordinary role player. He’s a future Hall of Famer, and playing serviceable basketball for him isn’t about ability, it’s ego.

Westbrook and Anthony played with each other on the OKC Thunder. Anthony said derisively that he wouldn’t come off the bench for that team. That was four years ago. People change in four years. More importantly, teams change. The personnel of this Laker team are far more talented than that of the Thunder squad.

“The Lakers might overcompensate with the abundance of high talent in their team and will most likely lose some direction,” senior Aarez Bukhari said.

Has there ever been an instance of too much talent backfiring on the team? The Nets with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant lost against the Bucks last year. This means the Lakers aren’t even the most talented team in the league. Their issue is fit. Talent can fit, but only if talent is willing to compromise.

If anyone can demarcate roles for the team, it’s LeBron James. If he can do it for Space Jam, he can do it for the Lakers.