"Obviously, they are at full strength and we're not,"LeBron James said after a 108-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns. "It's hard to see where we're at as a team."
"We have no ideao what this team can be"
Following yet another blowout, the Lakers have now lost three games in a row, with an average margin of 13.6 points. After seemingly finding their groove, winning four out of five games prior to the losing streak, the Purple and Gold seem to be back to the same level of mediocrity they've been in for the entirety of the season.
Back at.500, the seventh-seeded Lakers remain the league's biggest enigma. LeBron, as well as the rest of the organization, know as much about the team's potential now as they did at the start of the biggest chemistry experiment in recent NBA history.
We don't know. We have no idea what this team can be.
LeBron James, ESPN
Soon to be 37, performance-wise, James has been the only constant for the Purple and Gold. Coming off his eighth 30-point performance in the Lakers' last 12 games -- he had 34 in a loss to the Suns -- LeBron is averaging 26.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 6.6 assists on 51% from the floor. But just like the rest of the group, James' availability has been the biggest setback for the 2020 NBA champions.
No continuity allowed
Playing in his 19th NBA season, LeBron has missed 11 games due to injuries and being in the health and safety protocols. Prior to his MCL sprain, Anthony Davis sat out three games and is about to miss at least four weeks of action. Trevor Ariza just made his season debut, and Kendrick Nunn is yet to suit up for the Lakers.
David Fizdale, serving as a replacement after Frank Vogel entered the league's health and safety protocols, trotted out LA's 17th different starting lineup against Phoenix -- most in the league. Basketball is a game of continuity, and the Lakers haven't been given a chance to build one.
"How can we really fully assess what we have when we haven't been whole?" James said. "I can't remember the last time we played the same starting lineup and had the same rotation coming off the bench. It's been a long time. So, it's hard to assess that."
Russell Westbrook was a questionable fit with the Lakers from day one. Anthony Davis hasn't played to the 2020 championship standard last year, nor is he doing it this year. LeBron, although still playing like one of the best players in the world, isn't suiting up to the standard of one.
The rest of the group remains optimistic that, despite all the setbacks, the Lakers will figure it out. But for the first time this season, their best player has shown doubt.