At the beginning of the season, The Los Angeles Lakers were considered one of the favorites to reach the NBA Finals in the Western Conference.
It seemed as if the rest of the conference would be playing for second place, led by superstars LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. But that’s why you play the games.
The Lakers struggled with injuries, lack of continuity, and just a flawed roster throughout the season.
The team had just won the NBA “bubble” title in 2020 and suffered an opening-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns in 2021 after an injury to Davis changed the trajectory of a series they led 2-1.
The team traded the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell to the Wizards for Westbrook and let other key pieces like Alex Caruso and JaVale McGee leave via free agency.
That turned out to be an utter disaster. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs or play-in tourney, finishing a disappointing 33-49.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 25, 2022
In a recent interview, James talked about how his stomach burns not being in the playoffs.
“I was literally in the Maldives, waking up at 3 in the morning watching the playoff games. Like every single game at 3 in the morning. … It burns my stomach not to be a part of these games.”
James isn’t used to missing the postseason, although it’s happened twice in two seasons in Tinseltown.
He’s used to making Finals trips, having gone to eight straight from 2011 to 2018, winning three championships. He added a fourth in the Disney Bubble in 2020.
James Vows To Never Miss Playoffs Again
James tweeted in April, as the playoffs began, “I can/will NOT miss the playoffs again for my career! This s*** HURT. Ok back to watching the games.”
James just completed his 19th NBA season, having been a part of the postseason 15 times, playing in 266 games.
Ready to get started ▶️ pic.twitter.com/66MSGjGJxn
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 9, 2022
James was confident last summer that the Lakers had the squad to make serious noise and warned the NBA.
“Keep talking about my squad, our personnel ages, the way he plays, he stays injured, we’re past our prime in the league, etc, etc, etc. Do me one favor PLEASE!!!! And I mean PLEASE!!! Keep that same narrative ENERGY when it begins! That’s all I ask.”
This tweet didn’t age too well, as the Lakers finished 16 games under .500. So maybe James should his team’s play do the talking.
Lakers Hire Darvin Ham & Replace Frank Vogel
After leading the Lakers to the title in his first season, Frank Vogel led them to a first-round exit in 2021, and following this season; he became the fall guy for an underachieving team.
But it wasn’t all his fault.
The roster he was given in 2021-22 wasn’t conducive to what’s made him a championship NBA head coach — defense.
The team replaced him with longtime league assistant Darvin Ham, who’s getting his first crack at leading a team. While Ham helped develop the Milwaukee Bucks’ two stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, this situation is much more daunting.
James is in the twilight of his career. Anthony Davis is injury-prone and lacks the passion for reaching the next level of his talent.
"It starts right now."
Go behind the scenes for Darvin Ham’s first day on the job. pic.twitter.com/bbVCNOx6Nc
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 10, 2022
Add in Russell Westbrook and the enigma he can be, and Ham could be a dead man walking by season’s end in the City of Angels.