The hoops world is filled with clichés. When a team is young they’re called athletic. When they’re old they’re experienced. When a team is too young they’re immature. When a team is too old they’re past their prime.
Finding that Goldilocks range in age and NBA experience is a near impossible task for a franchise like the Lakers. We’re not talking about an organization that has had many ping pong balls in the draft lottery over the years. So go ahead and rule out the Seattle/Oklahoma City approach of building based on drafting and developing young talent.
As we all know the Lakers are a little long in the tooth when compared some of the NBA’s more competitive title contenders. Even the San Antonio Spurs have embraced a youth movement of sorts. But it’s not like having younger legs equates success (see 2011-12 Washington Wizards).
Getting younger isn’t a solution. That falls more into the rebuilding category. Good luck trying to sell Kobe Bryant on the notion of losing now to win later. He ain’t having that.
Going in the opposite direction has worked in the past as the Lakers have taken on veteran players still capable of contributing. Problem is Kobe is no longer the same player capable of carrying an entire franchise every single night. Mike Brown asked him to do that this season and we saw how it ended.
The reality is the Lakers are in a bad spot. They’ve got to keep Kobe content as he enters the denial phase of his career while also trying to build around an immature Andrew Bynum. Rock and a hard spot analogies are circling the drain as you read this.
This is Los Angeles where hoops titles are mandatory. Yeah, notice the use of the plural form with regards to titles. Building another dynasty on the fly is difficult at best. Mitch Kupchak pulled it off once before so there is some history to it.
Last time around Kupchak’s miracle of turning Kwame Brown into Pau Gasol was just what the Mamba ordered. But that was then. Back then the Lakers were strong enough in all areas that dropping Gasol in the mix took them over the top. Now they’re not even a Dwight Howard away from being true title contenders.
Getting younger is nice but getting balance is the real key to unlocking the trophy case again.
No matter if the Lakers trade Gasol, Bynum or (gulp!) Kobe they’re still stuck trying to get more perimeter scoring, a deeper bench and more consistent point guard play.
Simply put, getting younger isn’t the answer. We hear the age/athleticism factor tossed out there quite often but let’s be honest, if that’s all it took then Christian Eyenga and Jordan Hill would have made the Lakers contenders this season.
Unfortunately there is no quick fix for all that ails the Lakers. So feel free to keep scapegoating the age of this roster. Fact of the matter is there’s much more that needs to be accomplished ahead of just getting younger.