When you make massive roster overhauls with the mindset of winning at all costs, the risk can be as high as the reward. When you mix that strategy into a huge, unique market like Los Angeles, full of endless choices of entertainment for people, teams get more and more desperate to take those risks so they can cut through the noise.
The Lakers and Rams have both tried multiple cannonballs into that pool, but so far, neither is looking like they're making enough of a splash this time around.
The Lakers' first and biggest splash of course came in 2018 when they signed LeBron James, while the Rams started their climb to relevancy in Los Angeles the year before that, 2017, hiring then-30-year-old Sean McVay as their head coach. McVay was considered the next great football mind, while LeBron was, well, LeBron.
Since then, both organizations have stockpiled talent, sacrificed draft picks, and mortgaged their futures in order to put themselves in positions to win championships right now. McVay got the Rams to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2018 season, while LeBron and the Lakers won a title together during the NBA bubble.
So their first efforts clearly worked, but that of course isn't enough in a "what have you done for me lately" sports market, and both teams loaded up again for championship runs this year.
The Lakers entered the season with the second-best odds to win the title, while the Rams came into 2021 with the fourth-best odds to win the Super Bowl.
It sure hasn't looked like they were worth a play right now, though.
The Lakers are desperate to just stay at .500, with the 24th-ranked offense in the NBA, and the 19th-ranked defense, meanwhile, the Rams have lost three straight but are heavy favorites against the Jags this weekend.
Both teams have been trending in the wrong direction despite their star power.
The Lakers overhauled almost their entire roster this offseason, essentially building a Big Three-and-a Half, adding Russell Westbrook and sixth man Carmelo Anthony to their James and Anthony Davis core. The Rams, already loaded before the season started after trading for Matthew Stafford, added Von Miller before the trade deadline, then signed Odell Beckham Jr. after his release in Cleveland.
Westbrook is shooting just 44 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3, and turning the ball over five times per game for the Lakers. His chemistry with the rest of the offense looks like a science fair volcano gone sideways, while Miller has just eight total tackles, no sacks or forced fumbles, and Beckham has just seven catches for 99 yards, but has gotten into the end zone at least, in their two games with the Rams.
Small sample size for the newest Rams, sure, but a bigger version of that has shown us consistent drop-off for the Rams in recent weeks. Stafford, who of course was the Rams' big splash this offseason, has a passer rating of just 77.5 with 839 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions during this three-game losing streak.
The Lakers now have the fourth-best odds to win the NBA title (+842 consensus) while the Rams have fallen all the way to seventh (+1234 consensus) in the odds to win the Super Bowl.
Neither seems even like a value play at this point given what they've shown us.
The reality of these types of "win at all costs" strategies is that when it works -- which is far less often than you'd think -- everyone praises the organizations, but of course expects dominance every week. When it doesn't work, well, that's when the blame gets thrown around and locker rooms start to fracture.
Both teams are at crossroads, with the Lakers having far more season ahead of them, but far less to show in terms of success with their current group together. The Rams at least have a 7-1 start on their resume, and a win over another Super Bowl contender in Tampa Bay.
None of that matters, though, if they both can't deliver the one thing their front offices set out to do -- win a championship.
Given the current state of both the Rams and Lakers, it's looking less and less like a smart bet on either to bring one home this season.
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