los angeles lakers

Two Ex-Lakers Previously Blamed Are Demonstrating They Weren’t the Issue

The Los Angeles Lakers triumphed over the Boston Celtics on Thursday, yet their struggles continue. Positioned ninth in the Western Conference and holding a .500 record, the team’s performance seems to be a source of frustration for LeBron James. Speculation about a rift between coach Darvin Ham and the team has been widespread lately.

In the past, the Lakers’ regular-season difficulties were often attributed to players such as Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook. But with both guards no longer part of the team, it’s becoming clear that the criticism aimed at them may have been unfounded.

In a recent installment of “The Pat Bev Podcast,” Beverley highlighted that he and Westbrook are now part of two of the league’s top teams.

“They pointed fingers at me when I departed,” Beverley remarked. “They pointed at Russ too. Now, we’re with some of the NBA’s elite teams.”


Beverley has made a significant impact with the Philadelphia 76ers, showcasing his defensive prowess by ranking in the 88th percentile for defensive estimated plus-minus (EPM), a metric evaluating a player’s box score contributions, on-court impact, and comparison across the league on a per-100 possessions basis. The Sixers currently stand fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Similarly, Westbrook has found success with the L.A. Clippers, embracing a bench role to enhance James Harden’s gameplay. His contribution has been vital, helping the Clippers become one of the league’s standout teams.

This success of Beverley and Westbrook in their new environments suggests they were not the root of the Lakers’ issues, prompting a need for the Lakers to introspect. Blaming the coaching staff or players is an oversimplification. The organization must critically assess why the team has repeatedly underperformed in the regular season.

As a result, Rob Pelinka faces increasing pressure to make impactful moves at the trade deadline, often at the cost of valuable draft picks, in pursuit of short-term success. This strategy has left LeBron James increasingly frustrated with the team’s inability to foster a winning culture.

The Lakers are at a crossroads requiring tough conversations and decisive action to chart a coherent path forward. Their past approach has led to current challenges, necessitating a strategic shift to rectify the course.

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