LA’s Underwhelming Start

Last night, LeBron James missed a game through suspension for the first time in his 19-year career, a six-point loss to the Knicks.

Nobody’s panicking yet, but the Lakers are 4-7 in their 11 games without LeBron, and Anthony Davis is 9-14 without him.

The Lakers splurged this offseason, trading integral role players Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for Russell Westbrook, LA’s highest-paid player ($44.2M this season). 

But even without James, a team led by Westbrook and Davis shouldn’t rank in the bottom 10 in nearly every statistical category.

  • Their net rating (-3.5) is 24th in the NBA.
  • They’re 25th in offensive rating (105.1) and 20th in defensive rating (108.5).
  • They’ve allowed the 28th-most PPG (113.1) and are turning the ball over at the second-highest rate (16.3).
  • Westbrook is averaging the second-most turnovers (4.9). 

The Lakers have two further problems: a lack of identity — there are 10 new faces on a 15-man roster — and the fact that they’re one of the oldest teams in the league.

With the next four games against teams below .500 and LeBron returning tonight, there’s a good chance the Lakers find some much-needed momentum to climb out of the 9-seed.