I know how bad their record is and I’m not going to say things are going to get better right away. It’s going to take some time. A lot of time most likely. It really makes a lot of sense when you take a long and honest look at this Laker team. They have four good players. That’s it; and two of them are hurt right now. Dwight Howard, one their “healthy” stars is working his way back from a serious back injury after which he didn’t play basketball for six months. Dwight is still rusty and it may take a minute for him to get back to full speed. Kobe, as great as he’s been offensively has been almost as bad defensively. After those two guys who do the Lakers have that are even average NBA players? Antawn Jamison who can play offense well but who is also one of the worst defenders in the league. Jodie Meeks is probably slightly below average. Metta World Peace is too at this point in his career (his stellar defense used to make up for his struggles on offense but that hasn’t been the case this season). I personally am a fan of Jordan Hill but Mike D’Antoni doesn’t seem to agree. The rest of the Laker’s supporting cast is barely good enough to be in the league (which means there are way better at basketball than I can ever hope to be). Due to the injuries to Pau Gasol and Steve Nash the Lakers have been forced to lean on their biggest weakness. They landed all the stars they needed to compete but completely failed when it came to signing role players. A week ago John Hollinger of ESPN (who actually just started working for the Grizzles) exposed the Laker’s front offices shortcomings. First there was the Steve Blake debacle. The Lakers signed him for 4 years and $16 mil, which is crazy for a back up. Also crazy because he’s been well below average as a Laker. Jordan Farmar who the Laker let walk has been a pretty decent back up in the NBA and now plays overseas for whatever reason. Jodie Meeks is a Laker because Shannon Brown was let go and the Lakers passed on Nate Robinson, Leandro Barbosa, and Ronnie Brewer all of whom are signed to the minimum. Add in the fact that Dwight and Steve basically traded themselves to LA and when was the last time the Laker front office did anything of note? ’08 with Pau? They are paying the price now. Kobe used to be able to carry the Lakers on his back for stretches but can’t do it every night any more. Dwight has a bad back and can’t carry anything.
Pau and Steve can only get healthy, at their age playing through injury is not an option.To be fair, other teams like the Thunder and Heat are top-heavy talentwise but those team’s stars are relatively young. Dwight is the only star Laker on the right side of 30. Recently Dwight told every one to chill and Kobe confessed that he cares too much. Not enough to play defense on every play though. The Laker offense, even with out Pau and Steve has still been good but they are getting killed on D. Dwight doesn’t have the athleticism yet to cover for the rest of team’s shortcomings. All of the Laker’s crunch time failures go straight back to this issue. Dwight can miss all the free-throws he wants but until he starts defending like Dwight Howard again the Lakers will struggle down the stretch. Right now the Lakers are struggling at every moment. The Knicks blitzed them in the first quarter Thursday for 41 points and never looked back. Friday they play Washington a team that I’d normally assume the Lakers would beat easily. We can’t assume anything right now.
Melo and the Knicks killed the Lakers early
Dwight is right that we need to chill though. Steve Nash is looking to come back to practice next week and his presence will no doubt make the Lakers better. It should also give Mike D’Antoni a reason to smile. I don’t expect Pau to miss the entire season over tendentious and I also expect him to play better with Nash in there. Dwight will become more mobile eventually and until all four of the Laker stars are playing at a high level this team will not be a championship contender. They have already lost a ton of ground in the West race and may have to settle for the five seed. More interestingly, the top four teams in the West right now are damn good. Before the Lakers think about winning a title they need to get on their level. Before that they need to get healthy and worry about the things they can control. For example, their effort. Insert any other clichés here...