The Los Angeles Lakers are floundering toward missing the playoffs entirely despite LeBron James‘ continued brilliance in his 19th campaign. The Lakers are playing nowhere near the championship contender the franchise hoped for after the busy offseason.
The team has been impacted by many factors leading to their shortcomings on the court, setting up another summer of significant roster change. As the Lakers move toward a possible playoff bid, Malik Monk may have touched upon a concerning locker room dynamic that the team possesses.
Lakers can’t escape ongoing struggles
The Lakers entered the 2021-22 season with high hopes of vying for an NBA title, but their play has indicated anything but that.
Los Angeles sits 2.5 games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for the final spot in the play-in tournament. They have lost seven out of their last 10 games, including 10 out of their first 13 games since the All-Star break.
Although LeBron James is playing at an elite level, recently surpassing Karl Malone for second on the all-time scoring list, that hasn’t equated to sustained success. As the team treks through the final stretch of the regular season, Malik Monk may have just unveiled a concerning locker room problem.
Malik Monk unintentionally dropped insight on a concerning Lakers locker room dynamic
As the Lakers inch closer to falling short of NBA title contention, the team remains plagued by various issues.
Los Angeles has been unable to find any consistency while their group of talent hasn’t gelled together as hope due to injuries and overall roster construction. During a recent interview with ESPN‘s Dave McMenamin, guard Malik Monk may have underlined another concerning aspect of the team that may be a byproduct of their shortcomings.
“S—, everything,” Monk says. “Ups and downs. Rookie wall. Older guys yelling at the rookies because it’s their fault. Everything they do, it’s your fault out there because they know everything and you don’t and when you mess up, you just got to take it. You got to deal with things like that. I talk to Austin [Reaves] almost every day.”
It’s quite common for young players, especially rookies, to get called out by veteran players. However, that may be occurring much more in Los Angeles due to the team playing well below the NBA title expectations.
The level of internal frustration may be hitting a higher mark because of the lack of reliable play on both ends of the floor. LeBron James has publicly vented during games, especially over the last few weeks.
Again, veterans getting on younger players for their mistakes is nothing new for any team, but the number of times that occurs with the Lakers may be higher. They are not playing anywhere near what they expected, and that will lead to more frustration boiling over in that aspect, and the young talent just happens to get the short end of the stick.
Chance to build momentum heading into play-in tournament
The Lakers are locked into a play-in tournament bid, but an opportunity to build momentum sits ahead.
Los Angeles has 11 regular-season games left before the playoffs, giving them some room to find a rhythm. LeBron James will continue to lead the charge with his stellar play, while the talent around him will need to pick up the slack.
Russell Westbrook has picked up his play over the last couple of games, posting back-to-back 22-point outings. That includes recording a triple-double while shooting 60% from 3-point range over that short span.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is moving his way toward making his return in the coming weeks. He’s made some recent progress, as head coach Frank Vogel stated before Saturday’s game against the Raptors that the star forward had a “productive week.”
Davis’ return will provide the Lakers with a much-needed boost on both ends of the floor. Not all is gloomy, as Los Angeles has the chance to hit its stride to make it out of the play-in tournament and see where things go from there.