3 LA Lakers players who underperformed in the 2020-21 NBA season

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Anthony Davis #3 of the LA Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Anthony Davis #3 of the LA Lakers

The LA Lakers' 2020-21 NBA season was full of inconsistencies as they struggled to function without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Injuries sidelined both stars as James featured in only 45 games, while Davis was available for only half of the NBA's 72 for the regular season. Although the LA Lakers struggled to score, they maintained their intensity in defense.

The LA Lakers went on a 21-7 run to start the new season before Davis got hurt during a game against the Denver Nuggets on Valentine's Day. Since then, the losses began to pile up as LeBron also got injured barely a month later.

With both superstars missing in action, the LA Lakers struggled throughout the regular season, falling to seventh place. It was more of the same in the postseason as they were knocked out in the first round.

On that note, let's take a look at the three LA Lakers players who underperformed in the 2020-21 NBA season.

#3 Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he helps up DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the LA Clippers
Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he helps up DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the LA Clippers

The LA Lakers looked to Kyle Kuzma to take the reins on the court as LeBron and Davis were absent. While they were big roles to fill, he was expected to keep the offense going pending the return of both players.

Kuzma was the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and plied his trade for the LA Lakers since his introduction into the NBA. Although he started his career as a key player in the Lakers team, his role was reduced after the introduction of LeBron and subsequently, Davis.

The 2020-21 season for the LA Lakers was in the hands of Kuzma, with help from Dennis Schroder and other role players. But the forward failed to produce the goods.

Kuz had arguably the worst run of his career in the 2020-21 season. He was unable to handle the pressure of leading the LA Lakers to victory every night.

He finished the regular season averaging 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. His playoff run was more disappointing as he was not a significant contributor for the LA Lakers against the Phoenix Suns.

He struggled to find his range from the field in the playoffs, averaging 6.3 points per game. It was a mediocre performance from the forward who showed bursts of brilliance a few times in the regular season.

#2 Wesley Matthews

Wesley Matthews #9 of the LA Lakers
Wesley Matthews #9 of the LA Lakers

After the loss of Avery Bradley and Danny Green in the 2020 offseason, the LA Lakers needed to replace both role players and opted for Wesley Matthews. He was signed on November 22, 2020.

Mathews was the perfect fit for an LA Lakers team that needed three-point shooters and players that could defend on the perimeter. With the Lakers hoping to win back-to-back championships, they needed a suitable replacement for Bradley. His experience in the league was also a selling point as he has played for most of the top teams in the league.

Although Mathews was incredible on defense for the LA Lakers, he did not make significant contributions going forward. He was not as effective as many anticipated from three-point range, which was a part of why the Lakers shot 35.4% from downtown.

Mathew's averages were also not impressive as he had one of the worst field goal percentages in the team (35.3). He failed his primary assignment, which was to produce from deep for the LA Lakers. For the 2020-21 regular season he averaged 4.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.9 assists.

It was more of the same from the veteran guard in the playoffs, as he recorded 5.5 points per game and 1.7 rebounds.

#1 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the LA Lakers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the LA Lakers

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was one of the L.A. Lakers' lethal shooters who was instrumental in winning the championship in 2020. The 2020-21 NBA season was his fourth stint with the Lakers, and it is arguably the worst so far.

The unavailability of Green and Bradley was the perfect opportunity for the 27-year-old guard to shine for the LA Lakers. However, it seems like the pressure was overwhelming.

Although he had the best 3-point shooting percentage (41%) for the LA Lakers during the regular season, his accuracy was abysmal come playoffs. He struggled from all ends of the court and at one point lost confidence in himself, which resulted in him passing up on several open looks.

Other than injuries that hindered the LA Lakers' effectiveness for the better part of the regular season and in the playoffs, KCP's shooting played a factor in their first-round defeat. The LA Lakers' three-point average was one of the worst in the 2021 NBA playoffs, thanks to a horrendous display from KCP and other catch-and-shoot players.

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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