Russell Westbrook and the L.A. Lakers Are Turning into the NBA's Punching Bag

David Berding/Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Lakers are a mess. A laugh-inducing, timeline-crumbling mess.During Wednesday's 124-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Twitter couldn't roast them enough. And the brash, young Wolves weren't afraid to help on that front.Late in the second quarter, Malik Beasley nearly airballed a desperation jumper at the end of the shot…

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 16: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after getting called for a foul against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter at Target Center on March 16, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Lakers 124-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

David Berding/Getty Photos

The Los Angeles Lakers are a large amount. A chortle-inducing, timeline-crumbling mess.

Throughout Wednesday's 124-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Twitter might well presumably perchance well not roast them ample. And the brash, young Wolves weren't unnerved to again on that front.

Slack in the second quarter, Malik Beasley near to airballed a desperation jumper on the quit of the shot clock. Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony had been the simplest our bodies in situation for a rebound, and so that they quiet let Patrick Beverley sneak in gradual them, snag the board, lay it in for two and flex on them valid away in a while.

On the very next possession, Beverley gave the advancing Russell Westbrook 15-20 feet of assure. Or no longer it's miles the roughly disrespect in general reserved for pickup runs in opposition to the guy you perceive cannot or might well presumably perchance well not shoot. And Westbrook responded by throwing a slothful pass to LeBron James that became picked off by, you guessed it, Beverley.

Decide Perez @WorldWideWob

this Pat Bev/Westbrook sequence. yikes. https://t.co/U3xETxd2KQ

Then, with decrease than four minutes to head in the sport, Russ loaded up for a extensive-delivery three from the corner. With no one contesting, he launched the ball a precise two or three feet beyond the rim. He failed to plan iron, and Karl-Anthony Towns did every thing he might well presumably perchance well to plan consideration to it.

Upright peek this from the ground attitude. Completely brutal trolling from KAT.

pickuphoop @pickuphoop

https://t.co/h0M5rZjsgM

In a season that seemingly delivers a contemporary low every varied week, Wednesday gave us one other one. On the heels of reduction-to-reduction double-digit losses, and throughout a put up-All-Broad name stretch whereby the team's simplest two wins came in games whereby LeBron James scored 50, the Lakers had been getting straight-up clowned.

How is it likely for a team with LeBron averaging 29.5 facets, 6.2 assists and a pair of.8 threes to be this injurious? How is it likely for a team that correct acquired the title in 2020 to be a laughingstock for one other club that did no longer even design the playoffs that year?

How did the Lakers straggle from being the team with the second shortest title odds sooner than this season to particular person that inspires this level of disinterest by March?

MJ @MJ2KALLDAY

LeBron isn’t even on shroud for offense, man is carried out with the team https://t.co/gh2Gsx7DZ1

As is the case with most meltdowns, there's no longer one answer.

Accidents to each LeBron and Anthony Davis procure to be acknowledged. L.A. is 6-12 in the 18 games LeBron has uncared for. After Wednesday's blowout, it's 12-20 without AD. Nonetheless even though Davis is reduction and at paunchy strength sooner than the play-in match (which the Lakers ought to quiet quiet potentially reduction into), it's exhausting to steal them as anything bigger than a most main-spherical exit. In level of fact, would anybody be all that greatly surprised in the occasion that they did not even safe past the play-in?

L.A. is minus-2.8 facets per 100 possessions (37th percentile) with LeBron and AD on the ground this season. That quantity improves, but simplest a limited bit, if you occur to add Westbrook to the mix. And it's miles a case whereby the see take a look at potentially looks to be even worse than the stats.

All the pieces the skeptics disquieted about when Russ became got has took assure, though presumably to a more outrageous degree.

AD and Westbrook are taking pictures a mixed 25.5 p.c from three. When each are in the sport, defenses are cosy to sag into the paint and clog things up inside of. And in 19 games, coach Frank Vogel exacerbated the sphere by beginning DeAndre Jordan.

In an generation that has prioritized taking pictures and skills in not unique, Westbrook's lack of the outmoded and carelessness with the latter (he has the 11th worst turnover share in the league) has doomed lineups he's in.

And the numbers he's producing procure keep him in somewhat appealing company for a outmoded MVP.

Invoice Simmons @BillSimmons

Tried to resolve out if Russ is having one of many 10 worst offensive seasons ever. Wished other folks that performed 50+ games for injurious groups + struggled w/ loyal minutes/usage. Went with Usage Rate (no lower than 27%), MPG (33+), WS/48 (underneath 0.03), Swish Shooting (underneath 50%), TO’s (2+).

Successfully… https://t.co/EhglRHhnYY

Why certain, that is Michael Carter-Williams' rookie season you seek for in that table. And if I might well presumably perchance well suggested you LeBron would exhaust more time with a elevated-volume version of that campaign than any of his varied teammates in 2021-22, you presumably would've predicted an outcome fancy this.

So what now?

With 13 games to head, does it in fact again anybody to withhold taking half in Westbrook? We now procure got ample of a sample to know that he's no longer making the Lakers better (their safe rating is 2.7 facets worse when he's on the ground). And every evening fancy this opens him up for the roughly electronic onslaught that few varied players ever take care of.

Nate Jones @JonesOnTheNBA

I will’t take a outmoded MVP that had more other folks straggle at his throat throughout his decline than Russ. Folks smell blood and the volume on the disrespect has been grew to changed into the total technique up.

Final week, Westbrook's companion, Nina, unfolded concerning the "shaming, name-calling, and public scrutiny" her husband faces.

That evening, Westbrook suggested reporters, "...it's reached a level where it's in fact weighing on my household."

For everybody's sake, it ought to be time for an association fancy the one John Wall has with the Houston Rockets (if you occur to uncared for the old few months, Wall, who's healthy, hasn't performed a minute this season).

This is no longer Westbrook's fault. No longer decrease than no longer completely. Particular, he potentially might well presumably perchance well've made a limited more of an effort to modify his sport. He might well presumably perchance well've watched more movie of Bruce Brown working fancy a rim-running 5 with the Brooklyn Nets over the closing couple years. Nonetheless Vogel, no lower than per surface observations, never in fact tried to steer him in that route. And the front assure of job surrounded him with players who form no longer in fact match his sport (correct fancy it did not surround LeBron with the absolute most sensible players either).

Russ needs to be surrounded by shooters, fancy he became in the second half of of his campaign with the Rockets, as soon as they in fact performed him as a level middle on offense. Same goes for LeBron. Inserting them together became correct soliciting for wretchedness. After which adding presumably the worst bounce taking pictures season of AD's profession to the equation all but assured that wretchedness.

The 33-year-dilapidated Westbrook is clearly on the unsuitable side of his top, but this scenario nearly completely overstated his death.

On a varied team, one tailor-made to compare his strengths, Russ might well presumably perchance well quiet be a definite player. Over the direction of 2019-20 and 2020-21, he averaged 24.6 facets, 9.8 rebounds and 9.5 assists, while boosting his groups' safe rating.

It could presumably perchance well be a serious commitment, but one other team trying a reset will likely be willing to design it. Gather, as an instance, the Contemporary York Knicks, who went from fourth in the East in 2020-21 to nearly completely a lottery team this season.

Shopping and selling Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier and Alec Burks for Westbrook works underneath the collective bargaining settlement.

They'd must form more tinkering and glance shooters, but that would give Contemporary York any individual to electrify the Backyard. And he's on an expiring deal. If it would not determine, you safe a novel delivery in 2023.

L.A., meanwhile, gets two guys who are legit from three and a stable aged who's been a plus for the Knicks in every of his past two seasons. It would valid away push the Lakers nearer to the roughly makeup that acquired the title in 2020.

Two stars and depth became ample to head the total technique then (we'll reserve dialogue of the oddities of the bubble for one other time). And the front assure of job adopted that up with two years of tearing it down.

What Decide Pelinka and company constructed in the dilapidated team's assure did not work. In level of fact, it's failed in somewhat spectacular vogue.

Nonetheless, even with the total extremely publicized losses, drama and shortage of effort, LeBron has confirmed there's quiet one thing left in his tank. His 29.5 facets is over six facets better than the subsequent highest moderate in an age-37 (or older) season.

If the Lakers can safe one thing, anything, for Westbrook this offseason, and AD can keep healthy (two massive "ifs," I know), there might well presumably perchance well be time for one closing hurrah in L.A.'s LeBron generation.

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