5 reasons it’s already time for Lakers fans to hit the panic button on the 2022-23 season

Zach Stevens
7 Min Read

After the Los Angeles Lakers lost their first two games of the season to the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, plenty of fans are already bracing themselves for yet another ugly season.

In their eyes, the team made meager additions to the roster over the offseason that didn’t address any of the issues it had last season when it missed the play-in tournament.

There are still 80 games to go, and no one can fully assess the Lakers until perhaps December, but there are already several things to be concerned about.

1. Abysmal 3-point shooting

Patrick Beverley

This is perhaps the Lakers’ biggest problem, and it was on full display on Tuesday and Thursday night.

They finished just 10-of-40 from beyond the arc against the Warriors, while the defending NBA champs were 16-of-45. That’s an 18-point disparity in just that one aspect of the game.

They followed that up with a 9-of-45 performance against the Los Angeles Clippers. Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn went a combined 1-of-16 from deep.

Outside shooting has been a concern for Los Angeles for a while now. Even when it won the championship in the 2019-20 campaign, it ranked just 21st in the regular season in 3-point shooting percentage.

Barring a trade that upgrades their outside shooting, the Lakers will need a significant amount of internal improvement in that category in order to be competitive this season.

2. Same old Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Lakers

In many ways, Westbrook played well on Tuesday, as he had 19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists while shooting 7-of-12 from the field, 1-of-3 from downtown and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. But he regressed back to the mean on Thursday against the Clippers as he shot an abysmal 0-of-11 from the field and 0-of-6 from deep.

He has shown a willingness to buy into new head coach Darvin Ham’s role for him and was even seen playing some high-energy defense against the Clippers. However, old habits are very hard to break.

Westbrook will never become a good outside shooter, and he will always be mercurial. The latter is something that has made him a great player, but it has also been his downfall at times.

What seems to trouble fans the most is his perceived attitude. He came off the bench in L.A.’s final preseason game, only to tweak his hamstring a few minutes after entering the contest.

He later said he tweaked his hamstring because he was asked to come off the bench.

He then followed that up with an angry interview with reporters following Thursday’s game.

It’s these types of comments that make Westbrook come off as more selfish and stubborn than he likely is in reality.

The Lakers will need to trade him at some point if they want any hope of contending.

3. Front office okay with standing pat

Buddy Hield and Myles Turner

It was recently reported that the Lakers will wait until at least late November before exploring the trade market.

They reportedly had the opportunity to trade Westbrook and two future first-round draft picks to the Indiana Pacers for sharpshooter Buddy Hield and center Myles Turner, but the team has passed on that option so far.

Hield has what it takes significantly help L.A. as he shoots just under 40 percent from deep for his career. Replacing Westbrook in the starting lineup with Hield, would make a night and day difference, as the guard does not need the ball in his hands to be effective. Lakers superstar LeBron James has also been known to thrive on the floor with shooters around him.

In addition, Turner is a great rim protector as he averaged 2.8 blocks per game last season and can stretch the floor for the Lakers as a center. He shoots just under 35 percent from long range for his career.

4. Injuries, injuries, injuries

Thomas Bryant

Just like at this time last year, the Lakers are already dealing with the injury bug.

Guard Dennis Schroder and center Thomas Bryant both have thumb injuries that will sideline them for at least the next few weeks while forward Troy Brown Jr. has missed the last two games with a back injury.

In addition, big man Anthony Davis took a nasty fall on Thursday and had to leave the game before returning shortly thereafter.

He said in his own words that he’ll be good to go on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Nonetheless, there is a perpetual concern surrounding Davis, who has played in just 76 of a possible 154 games over the past two seasons.

L.A. can survive without Brown for a little while, but Schroder and Bryant being out will seriously challenge their depth.

5. Lack of wing depth

Juan Toscano-Anderson

The modern NBA is all about having two-way wings, and the Lakers just don’t have enough of them.

Juan Toscano-Anderson and Brown (when he gets healthy) have what it takes to help somewhat, as does guard Lonnie Walker IV, but they won’t be enough.

The team needs two more reliable 3-and-D wings: One who can slide between the 2 and 3, plus one who is about 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 and can comfortably play at the 4.

During the championship season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma were adequate in filling those needs.

Could Austin Reaves, who had a solid preseason, become one of those wings?

Even if he does, the Lakers badly need a tall wing to play the 4 and supply them with very accurate 3-point shooting, solid defense, energy and athleticism. That type of contributor would greatly increase their chances of being highly competitive.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.