The 2021-22 season will be remembered as one of the most disappointing campaigns in Los Angeles Lakers and NBA recent history. On paper, the Purple and Gold looked like a powerful team that was ready to fight for a deep run in the playoffs. Instead, they did not even qualify for the postseason.
The Lakers fell incredibly short in their quest for the championship by finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a poor 33-49 record, something that inevitably resulted in Frank Vogel's firing.
But the blame has not only fallen on the head coach, of course. One of the biggest complaints throughout the season was the poor level of Russell Westbrook, who left a lot to be desired after the team made a blockbuster trade for him in the summer. Here's what LeBron James had to say about Brodie and his tough first year in LA.
LeBron James shows praise for Westbrook, explains why things haven't worked out so far
“I don’t put any expectations on anything,” James said, per ClutchPoints. “It’s all about coming in, putting in the work, and go from there. One thing about Russ that I love and will always love, is just his competitive spirit, what he brings to the game every night.
"And when you’re in a profession when so many injuries happen, and so many things go on, to have a guy that’s reliable, who can put on the uniform every single night, that’s something I respect out of everything. I’m not gonna sit here and make decisions for the front office and things of that nature, but I love being a teammate of Russ."
But why has the Big Three of him, Anthony Davis and Westbrook hasn't paid off? Well, LeBron blames injuries, as the three of them have only been able to play 21 games together in the season.
“I mean, at the end of the day, the reason why we were not very good together is we weren’t on the damn floor together," James said. "That is the No. 1 thing. I mean, how many games did we play together? We played, what, a quarter of the season together? … I played more games with my high school teammates in a season, and we only played 27 games. So there it is.”
LeBron may have a point here, it's hard to judge what the three of them can accomplish together if they have barely been able to be in the court at the same time. That being said, the Lakers weren't much better when that happened: they went 11-10 with James, AD, and Westbrook all on the floor. Russ is still under contract for next season but the poor 2021-22 campaign can prove costly in his future.