Every major sports league has a few franchises that define that league. These are franchises that are, in a very real way, the face of that league. Generally, these franchises have won more than they have lost. They also have a long history in the sport. The New York Yankees are a great example in Major League Baseball. The Green Bay Packers would fit the bill in the National Football League. For the NBA, that franchise are the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s good to be an elite franchise when times are good. Of course, that means it’s not all that good when times are tough. For the Lakers, times are tough.
If you remove the two shortened NBA seasons, 2019-20 & 2020-21, the Lakers have not had a winning season since 2012-13. In that time they have a winning percentage of .340. Not counting this season, that’s an average of 28 wins in an 82 game season. Yikes! Making that all the more shocking is that they have employed LeBron James since the 2018-19 season.
I can hear Lakers fans screaming that the shortened seasons count too! And its true, they do. Every team that was invited to the bubble wanted to win the NBA Championship in the 2019-20 season. It was the Lakers that won it though. The concern though is that even if you count those two seasons the winning percentage only jumps to .409. When you look at all those seasons, including the shortened ones, lined up the 2019-20 & 2020-21 seasons begin to stick out. As if they were aberrations, not the norm.
- 2021-22 – 0-2
- 2020-21 – 33-49
- 2019-20 – 42-30
- 2018-19 – 52-19
- 2017-18 – 37-45
- 2016-17 – 26-56
- 2015-16 – 17-65
- 2014-15 – 21-61
- 2013-14 – 27-55
There is an old adage in baseball that states one of the worst things that can happen to a very good line-drive hitter is for him to have a multi-homerun game. All of a sudden, that player might think they are the next Babe Ruth, tinker with their approach and negatively impact their overall hitting success. Sometimes, as weird as it may sound, a good thing – like winning an NBA Championship – can mess with the psyche of a franchise.
The AD Conundrum
Because of that Championship the Lakers believe they can win with Anthony Davis. I mean, they did once before! That season it was AD that led the team in Win Share, not LeBron James. The Lakers plan to have LBJ hand the mantle to AD seemed to be in place. That season Davis played and started in 62 games of the 72 total games. Of course, there was a 4 month gap that season due to COVID. Since that season, Davis has played in 36, 40 games over a full season.
This is not about bashing AD or calling out his inability to stay healthy. I’m just showing you the numbers. You make of them what you will.
The NBA deserves to see a healthy Anthony Davis for a full season. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. The lack of a dominant and healthy Davis, when combined with the lack of Lakers shooters, leaves the Lakers in a tough spot. After 2 games they are 29th in 3P% and FG%. And while Davis has played well in the first 2 games of the season, the Win Share leader for the Lakers at the start of this season is, once again, LeBron James.
It should be Anthony Davis. It has to Anthony Davis if the Lakers want to see a winning record over an 82 game season.