Ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season the Los Angeles Lakers were the biggest talking point all around the world. The Purple and Gold army already had the likes of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, they got players like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Malik Monk and many more. They were surely the team to beat with so many All-Stars pairing up in a single team.
The lineup was oozing with experience and most people expected them to dominate the NBA this season. But it has been anything but dominant for coach Frank Vogel and his men.
When the Lakers signed the veterans there was always a question surrounding the players and their age. There were injury concerns to almost all of the players as the majority of the team were above the age of 30. Players like LeBron, AD and Westbrook like to cover a lot of the court and that has caused trouble to their long-range shooting.
Recently former legend Gary Payton took a dig at Russell Westbrook without comparing the Lakers from this era and the Kobe Bryant era.
He had a one-off experience with the Lakers and was part of the legendary team that had players like Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. In the 2003-04 season, the current Lakers team finished runners up in the NBA championship. Payton feels that there is a huge gulf in class between the two generations and the current team stands no chance in front of the team from the 2003-04 season.
Speaking on the Draymond Show, Payton opened up on the two generations and the teams. He said, “[In 2003] Kobe had got in trouble in Denver, Shaq was with Dr. Bucks, and then Karl got hurt. And guess what Draymond, we still made the championship.”
He added, “I don’t think this Lakers team is nothing like our team in 2003 at all. I think we had players that knew their role. I think the Lakers team right now, they’re very hurt. A lot of them are not playing. And I don’t think Russ (Russell Westbrook) is playing the way that he should be playing.”
The Lakers are currently at an underwhelming seventh position in the Western Conference with a record of 21-20. They recently lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 127-119 in a game where Westbrook was again pretty average.