Confessions of a Distraught Lakers Fan…
December 16, 2012
Not in a million years would I believe that 24 games into the season, a team with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Dwight Howard would be 4 games below .500. Neither would I believe that the Lakers would fire Mike Brown (After 4 games into the season!), turn down Phil Jackson, the winningest coach in NBA history, and hire Mike D’Antoni in a 2 week span. At times, LA has looked like a lottery team, with several bad losses, confusion on both sides of the ball, and injuries.
After the Lake Show limped out to a 1-4 record, ownership shocked everyone by firing second year head coach Mike Brown. I can’t say was upset for the move, but I do feel sorry for the guy. He is a great defensive mind and throughout this coaching career he has made a lot out of little (Taking the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007). He really didn’t get a fair shot to coach this team, and unfortunately his legacy will be ‘The Guy who couldn’t win a ring with LeBron or Kobe”. With Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the fold, Brown just wasn’t a great fit. His slow motion, often times robotic offense isn’t a good system for a PG like Steve Nash.
Mike Brown’s abrupt departure definitely took us all by surprise, but turning down ‘The Zen Master”, a guy who’s won 5 rings already coaching the Lakers and has 12 total championships (1 as a player)?!?! Who would have been better to manage the Lakers top heavy roster than Phil Jackson? His resume speaks for itself. In all honesty, I think the Lakers were thrown off by Jackson’s demands (restricted traveling for away games, more input in basketball decisions, and I’m sure a hefty price tag) and took the “we’ll show you” approach and went with option B.
The only benefit from having Mike D’Antoni is his previous success with Steve Nash. These two created some beautiful basketball from 2004-2008. During that span, they compiled 232 wins, 2 WCF apperances, a Coach of the Year award, and 2 MVPs. Albeit that the Lakers need Steve Nash to flourish in order to win a title, the rest of the team doesn’t seem like a fit for D’Antoni’s style of play. The Lakers’ 2 twin towers in the middle in Gasol and Howard haven’t really been comfortable together so far this year. Coach D’Antoni’s pick and roll offense leaves Pau Gasol wandering around the perimeter shooting long range jumpers. While Pau is a capable shooter, the 7 foot Spaniard is most effective in the post where he can score with either hand and create for others. Age and attrition also doesn’t bode well for LA in an uptempo offense. Teams are pushing the ball down the Lakers throat, leaving them helpless as they watch younger, faster players get to the rim with ease.
Yes, the Lakers are 10-14 and the chances of Kobe getting his 6th ring this year look slim to none at this point. However I will give Mike D’Antoni’s 5-9 record a pass because he inherited a top heavy team with a suspect bench AND his field general in Steve Nash, as well as Pau Gasol and Steve Blake are out with injuries. LA is down to its 3rd and 4th string PGs, and it shows… the Lakers have looked lost on offense with everyone standing around watching Kobe and Howard dominate the ball. LA is 24th in the league in assists pg with 20.3, and committing a ton of turnovers. With no one to orchestrate the offense, Kobe has been forced to score and facilitate which leaves me to wonder if the 17 year vet will have enough in the tank once the playoffs arrive. Despite having to carry an enormous load, Kobe is quietly having one of his best seasons ever shooting a career high 48% from the field and averaging 29, 5 and 5. Once Nash returns, Bryant’s life will get a whole lot easier.
These injuries have not only stalled the team’s cohesiveness, it has exposed the Lakers bench. Despite a couple of flashes, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks have been a disappointment. Both have experienced dips in their scoring averages from last year, and they have managed to combine for only 14 ppg. These two, along with Steve Blake (once he returns to action), must find a way to be more productive to take some pressure off the starting 5.
Most of Laker Nation, myself included, have officially entered panic mode. With Kobe at 34 and Nash at 38 (will be 39 in February), the window of opportunity for a title is getting smaller by the day. As bad a start the Lakers have had this season there are a few glimmers of hope…
1) Dwight Howard is steadily improving
People forget that Howard is coming back from serious back surgery, he has been quoted as saying he could barely walk towards the end of last season. There has been steady improvement from DH from game to game. His free throw shooting has been pathetic and it will cost the Lakers some games, but if Howard can get back to his Defensive Player of the Year form he will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
2) Steve Nash
Steve Nash is the key to the Lakers success this season. If he can find a way to duplicate last year’s statistics, LA will be hard to deal with. His perimeter shooting and playmaking abilities will inject some energy into the Lakers offense. Now I’m not saying the 38 year old PG will be the cure all to the team’s multitude of problems (especially on defense). But as Nash heals and the team spends more time together more wins will come.
3) We are only 24 games in!
Bottom line, the Lakers are trying to build Rome in a week. This team is going to need some time to mesh together. Once everyone gets healthy and can sustain some type of rhythm, this team will be right in the mix for a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately the Lakers look like they will need a whole season together to fix their problems, and time is of the essence. Father time is not far behind Kobe and Nash, which means if the Lakers are to win a title, it will have to be this year or next. Laker Nation must somehow discover some patience because this team has A LOT of work to do…