The Los Angeles Lakers won three (3) games in a row and if you are a basketball fan, analyst or scout that pays attention to the mainstream basketball media you would think there would be more interesting NBA stories in the 2012-13 season. However, the media is amused by all of the drama that continues to unfold in LA land. The first episode of “As the Lakers World Turns” was the fact that the Lakers signed NBA All Star Dwight Howard and former NBA Player of the Year Steve Nash and the pundits immediately placed them in the 2013 Western Conference Finals before one NBA game was played. “As the Lakers World Turns” continued the Lakers lost the majority of the first five games and hastily fired Mike Brown the proclaimed defensive specialist who was ousted by Cleveland in their own LeBron James saga. The story became juicer as Phil Jackson was interested in returning to the Los Angeles Lakers sideline and the whole world assumed the job was his until Mike D’ Antoni was hired under the craziest of circumstances. Phil Jackson and the entire basketball world were stunned by the lack of professionalism, respect and communication displayed by the Lakers management to the NBA coaching guru. Phil Jackson probably found out by Twitter he did not get the job.
Rumours in the NBA circles and media outlets cited the power dynamics and personal issues between Phil Jackson and Jim Buss. “As the Lakers World Turns” continued D’Antoni took the reins of the team over and they struggled with poor transition defense and Kobe continued to be a prolific volume shooter/scorer while blaming the efforts of his inferior teammates. Dwight Howard is not the same physically dominant player due to his back issues and the limited offensive touches which definitely affected his motivation and performance. The Lakers offensive system became very predictable and predicated on Kobe shooting a NBA League high of 22 shots per game. During the NBA preseason our Global Basketball staff of analysts were sitting around chatting after a lunchtime basketball game and made a friendly wager that the Lakers would not be successful if Kobe continued to be a volume shooter averaging 23 shots per game and shooting a mere 43% from the FG as in the 2011-12 season. Everyone in the discussion predicted with the addition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard that Kobe’s shot attempts should decrease for the benefit of team chemistry. Some of the guys wagered that his attempts would decrease as low as 18 shots per game and the highest was 20 shots per game. As another episode of “As the Lakers World Turns” continued we were amazed that his attempts where just as high as they were in the previous season. Anyone who ever followed the Los Angeles Lakers the past 3-4 seasons knew their main weakness is containing opposing quick and athletic point guards with scoring ability. Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Aaron Brooks, J.J. Barea just to name a few destroyed Derrick Fisher and the Lakers crop of guards in recent playoff history. The addition of Steve Nash on paper should add more offensive chemistry and make Kobe and company more efficient scorers. However, Steve Nash is a defensive liability and the Lakers are always going to struggle containing the pick and roll and the elite NBA point guards they face on a nightly basis. Who really thought this was going to be a winning formula? Maybe the media were the only suckers who thought NBA supremacy was returning to Laker land. Andrew Bynum put up the exact numbers in 2011-12 that Dwight Howard is currently putting up. They traded one guy who is always on the All NBA Always Injured Team for another NBA All Star coming off of back surgery and is playing at 80% capacity. The question is will he ever get his athleticism back to the before surgery days and did the Lakers really get better?
The final factor is they brought in Mike D’Antoni an offensive guru that all NBA perimeter players love to play for. Any player who ever played for the D’Antoni Suns experienced their best 3pt shooting average of their individual career. The only problem is that the Phoenix Suns would score 123 points on some nights and win and the nights they lost they would give up 130 points. Every NBA team that faced the D’Antoni Suns knew they were going to out up some crazy numbers on that particular night and the Suns were the worst defensive team in the NBA..
“As the Lakers World Turns” continued who was really surprise that this winning formula did not work at all? Every media show and pundit talked about Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol offensive roles and their on court relationship with Kobe. They also focused on Mike D’Antoni not being a defensive coach. The truth of the matter is the Los Angeles Lakers needed to add youth/athleticism to their roster and a legit NBA PG who can play defense. In addition, Phil Jackson was the only coaching solution that had a chance to resolve a variety chemistry issues with this aging superstar roster that have major defensive flaws. In order for the Lakers to be a championship contender any coach would have to get Kobe Bryant the biggest gunner in the NBA to pass the basketball and be a more efficient scorer, integrate an offensive system where Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol develop positive team chemistry. Some of the playing issues are that Pau Gasol is confused with his offensive role, Dwight Howard is limited due to his back issues and still is a poor free throw shooter and Steve Nash is a major defensive liability. In the latest episode of “As the Lakers World Turns” Kobe somehow was convinced to play team basketball the past three (3) games which the Lakers won and has been deferring to his teammates for easy baskets while averaging over 10 assists per game. Our in house staff of basketball analysts prior to the season predicted that Kobe should focus on taking a lot less shots and concentrate on shooting over 50% from the FG and attempt to average over 8 assists per game. Kobe has never shot over 50% from the FG in his career but LeBron shot 53% last year and Michael Jordan did it his whole career. Kobe is the most talented NBA scorer in the game with a complete arsenal of offensive skills but Kevin Durant is not too far behind.
The Lakers have won three games in a row and the drama will continue to unfold in Laker land. Our experts think there are still some defensive issues that the Lakers will face and they may struggle to advance to the playoffs. However, offensively they are going in the right direction for the time being and they have a soft schedule the next couple of weeks. Let’s all tune in and watch the next episode of “As the Lakers World Turns”
Global Basketball Analyst