Even though they are one of the most popular and winningest franchises in sports and NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers have gone through some difficult years over the past decade. However, the 2021-22 may have been the most disappointing season of all.
The Purple and Gold were seen as one of the strongest teams before the campaign got underway, having made a number of big moves in the offseason. But not only they didn't have a deep run in the playoffs, they haven't made it to the postseason at all.
LeBron James may have recorded impressive numbers, yet the King has been blamed for the team's additions in the summer - especially the Russell Westbrook trade. Brodie has left so much to be desired that, at some point of the season, people at the Lakers were reportedly worried that he was playing through some kind of injury.
NBA Rumors: Lakers tried to find answers to Russell Westbrook's struggles
(Via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN)
"He looked uncomfortable performing basic skills. Like he was forcing things ... or rushing them ... or hesitating. In November he missed four of the seven dunks he attempted. On Christmas Day he missed two more as the Lakers were trying to rally in the final minutes of a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. After that, he essentially stopped dunking altogether. In January, he dunked twice. In February, he was just 1-for-3.
People on the team and around the league began to wonder if something was wrong with his hands or eyes. It's not often a player makes just 65% of his dunks in a season. Sources close to Westbrook insist he has had his hands thoroughly checked by a specialist and that the treatment he receives regularly is no different than the regular treatment he does on his ankles and knees. Westbrook jammed the fingers on his right hand last season in Washington, but he never missed time with the injury. In 2014, he'd broken that hand and had surgery. But that was eight years and six All-Star appearances ago."
Even though he is not the only one to blame for the Lakers' bad year, Westbrook has not lived up to the expectations, especially in the first months of the 2021-22. It may had to do with the fact that he couldn't carry the ball that much with LeBron on the floor, but his poor level has certainly been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. That could explain why the Lakers tried to find reasons behind his struggles.