The Los Angeles Lakers have yet to look any bit the part of a championship-contending team. The Lakers have been struck hard by injuries and COVID-19 issues, leading to inconsistent performances. Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson believes he knows Los Angeles’ most significant problem, but his assessment sits off the mark.
Lakers’ struggles continue to pile up
The Lakers’ recent encouraging surge has quickly become overshadowed by a three-game skid.
The Phoenix Suns dominated Los Angeles on Tuesday night, cruising to a comfortable win as James’ game-high 34 points couldn’t mask his team’s shortcomings. Los Angeles is struggling to find any consistency, compounded further after Anthony Davis suffered another significant injury that will force him to miss at least a month.
All that has led Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to voice what he believes s the Lakers’ most prominent issue.
Oscar Robertson misses the mark when pinpointing the Lakers’ single biggest issue
The Lakers haven’t looked anywhere near like a championship-contending team for various reasons.
Los Angeles has dealt with notable significant injuries to key contributors, while COVID-19 cases have ravaged the roster and coaching staff in recent weeks. However, Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson voiced on a recent appearance on Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Haynes “Posted Up” podcast that he believes it’s the Lakers’ lack of consistent bench production that plagues them most.
“I’ve always said this, in order to win the championship, you’ve got to have a good bench,” Robertson said. “Davis has hurt right now, and then they keep talking about Lebron’s age. I mean, you know, when I was coming up playing basketball in the Park, I played against a lot of the fathers of the players, players that I knew well.
“I mean, I don’t think age has anything to do with this, you know how to play. But I think the Lakers bench is a problem. I look at Golden State, and I look at Phoenix, and those guys come off the bench, man. They make it. They come in the game, they’re ready to go. But sometimes but the legacy is just not there.
Los Angeles spent the offseason retooling the roster around James and Davis, putting forth an almost entirely new group of reserves. Carmelo Anthony has served as an offensive bright spot, while the rest of the second unit has struggled to find consistency.
Malik Monk has shown flashes of promise, but he’s failed to find a reliable offensive rhythm, while the recent bout with COVID-19 hasn’t helped the situation. Beyond that, the injuries haven’t allowed the Lakers to field the same bench unit that can build sustainable chemistry.
James and Davis missing extended time have forced Los Angeles to play altered starting lineups and reserves. Until the Lakers can field a healthy full roster, it’s hard to truly pinpoint any one issue as the reason for their shortcomings.
Lakers need more than LeBron James to step up with Anthony Davis out
As the Lakers continue to stumble, the outside doubt will remain prevalent.
Despite that, their mindset remains fixated on building on-court chemistry. Davis missing the next four weeks doesn’t help, but it presents an opportunity for other players on the roster to fill that massive void.
Russell Westbrook can utilize the increased offensive role to find his rhythm and comfort playing alongside LeBron James. Although Talen Horton-Tucker is coming off an atrocious shooting performance, hitting 1-of-13 shots in the loss to the Suns, he will have more opportunities to be a prominent offensive factor.
Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza has shown promising signs in his first two games back. The Lakers are hoping Ariza can become a key contributor behind his versatility defensively while stretching the floor with his outside shooting.
Los Angeles is heading into a difficult patch without Davis that could wind up helping them in the long run.