Not too long ago, last season in fact, if you were to take a look at bet365 Sport and their list of teams that are likeliest to win the NBA Championship, you would have seen the Los Angeles Lakers feature prominently on that list.

In fact most years, the Lakers were either the favourite, or second favourite team to win it all.

However, after a dismal start to the current NBA regular season, the Lakers sat bottom of the Western Conference after losing their first five games, before they finally managed to land a victory in their sixth game of the season against the Denver Nuggets yesterday.

A quick look at the odds for the NBA Championship now though is somewhat sobering for Lakers fans as bet365 currently have the once all-conquering Lakers as a 33-1 outsider to win it all.

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It is the Boston Celtics who are the 11/2 slight favourites ahead of the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks, both at 6/1, with the Lakers city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers next on 13/2.

So what has happened to the once great Lakers that has seen them struggle so much this season and can they rescue a season that has started so poorly?

Let’s address both these issues separately.

What Has Happened To The Lakers?

  • Putting The Lakers In Context

To understand the issue with the Lakers, it is first important to put things into context, especially for those of you who aren’t followers of the NBA.

Alongside the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers have won the most NBA Championships in the history of the NBA. Not only that, they have reached ten more NBA Championship Finals series than any other team.

They have amassed 17 wins and 15 runner-up finishes in the NBA Championship game. They have twice won the title three years in a row (from 1952 to 1954 and also from 2000 to 2002) and their most recent Championship win came in 2020  when they defeated the Miami Heat 4-2 to claim a record-equalling 17th NBA title.

That success on the field has come on the back of the Lakers becoming one of the real powerhouse teams in the NBA. A list of former and current Los Angeles Lakers players reads like a list of NBA Legends.

Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Pau Gasol, Elgin Baker and of course Kobe Bryant have all been part of past superstar Lakers teams.

The current team boasts arguably one of the greatest players in NFL history in LeBron James, as well as bonafide superstars in the shape of Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.

To compare Los Angeles Lakers to a Premier League side, they would be Manchester United, with the Boston Celtics perhaps being Liverpool.

So how can a team with so much history and so much talent, be struggling so much?

Current Los Angeles Lakers Issues

Of course, every pundit has their own theory on why the 2022 Lakers are struggling, but the truth of the matter is that the team massively under-performed last season too and they have not made any significant changes to their team in order to address that.

As such, the fact their struggles have continued into this season is, on the face of it unsurprising.

But what are the possible causes of this lack of competitiveness?

  • Theory 1 – Russell Westbrook Does Not Fit In Los Angeles

The Lakers have always bought into to this Super-Team theory and in the past it has served them well as they have teamed up some of the greatest talent available in the NBA at that time to propel them to success.

LeBron James has been the lynchpin for the current Lakers team since he signed for them from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018 and a year later, they teamed LeBron with the hugely talented Anthony Davis, trading away several prospects to land the tall power forward.

By the end of the 2019/20 season, the Lakers moves had been vindicated, with Davis and James leading them to the NBA Championship win over the Miami Heat.

However, as an increasing number of talented, young players left the franchise, to be replaced by veterans, the Lakers form suffering as a result.

The acquisition of Russell Westbrook was pinpointed as the reason for this with the talented playmaker struggling for form ever since he signed for the team and his chemistry with Davis and James just not being evident enough.

With Davis and James missing significant time through injury and Westbrook out of sorts, the Lakers struggled badly last season and the malaise is also responsible for this season’s problems according to some.

  • Theory 2 – Offense Not Firing

The stats suggest that the Lakers entire offence is not firing on all cylinders. They score the fewest number of points per 100 possessions in the league (96.9), they have the worst 3-point shooting percentage in the league, and not only that the worst percentage in NBA history after four games.

  • Theory 3 – No Ability To Improve Through The Draft

The Lakers traded their future to land Anthony Davis and it means that they do not own the rights to their next three first-round draft picks, with the New Orleans Pelicans able to swap first round picks with the Lakers, should the Lakers land a better first rounder than the team from Louisiana.

  • Theory 4 – Poor Recruitment

There’s no doubt that the Lakers decision to move on a number of their young talents such as Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma has backfired somewhat leading to a lack of strength in depth and a reliance on older, veteran players who are well past their best when Davis and James are either not firing or not fit.

Of course, there’s other issues such as form, confidence and players under-performing in the team and in truth the Lakers woes stem from pretty much all these factors, rather than simply the signing of one player.

Can The Lakers Fix The Problem?

The Lakers do have some cap space to fix the issue, but there is more to it than simply bringing in other players, especially with their draft options so limited.

Los Angeles have bounced back from poor performances in other periods to claim more Championships, but this season it looks like being another one where they need to bite the bullet and rebuild.

With LeBron signed on for this and next season at least, the Lakers are not quite dead in the water just yet, but they need to sort out a significant number of issues if they are to become anywhere near relevant in their division, let alone the NBA at some point in the future.