Lakers have always been careful of "tanking" because of a public outcry but I get the sense fans are fine with it at this point. Am I wrong?
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 31, 2013
Is he wrong? I don’t believe so. Expectations for the seasons were fairly moderated between Laker fans. Wanting anything between 35-45 wins is reasonable and still achievable. There’s no guarantee of the playoffs. Some fans want the playoffs. Some fans want a lottery pick to help reboot the franchise.
There’s an upside to making the playoffs. It speaks volumes of this franchise if they do. They can take a collection of players, and within one year, create a playoff atmosphere despite a relatively new coach and a completely different roster from one season to the next. It signals to the league that this team is ready to fight, and whoever decides to sign and be part of the Laker team in the future, knows what the brand is about, winning. Does anyone remember the mid-90’s Laker teams? It was a collection of draft picks with Nick Van Exel and Anthony Peeler, and later, lottery pick Eddie Jones, that created a playoff spirit during the regular season with playful exuberance on the court. Nick Van Exel was our Mr. Clutch. Ceballos finished everything in the paint. Eddie Jones was blocking Michael Jordan’s fadeaway. There was plenty of room for hope and optimism for the Laker team.
Don’t forget, the Lakers still get a 1st round pick. It may not be in the lottery, but assuming the Lakers make an 8th or 7th seed, the pick will be above #20. There is still quality talented to be had. Maybe a project player will be drafted late and blossom under a Laker environment.
There’s an upside to missing the playoffs. I wouldn’t say the Laker team outright tanks games. They don’t. Every game they go out and fight to compete, despite the injuries and drama. The team was so close to just getting a few wins with Farmar just coming back from a hamstring injury. Any kind of solid point guard play for 35 minutes would have helped keep the team near .500. The games aren’t just competitive, they are close to the very end. They keep us at the edge of our seats, waiting for the next Laker player to shine through and make a name for himself on the team. We want our players to succeed and this gives them the opportunity, in a trying year, to expand beyond what their usual talent as them labeled as. Before, Jordan Hill was foul-prone. Now, he’s an offensive rebounding monster, relentless in the paint. Before, Xavier Henry was a project wing guard, and now, he’s an aggressive wing player splitting time at the point guard position facilitating the offense. Before, Nick Young was known as an ambitious shooter. Okay, well, Nick Young still is, but he’s playing to his teammates, more aggressive to the basket, and even took a charge against the Sacramento Kings to seal the win for the Lakers.
The bonus would be having the current Laker players become consistent at their improvements, and then bringing in the lottery pick to build around. Miss the playoffs this year? That’s fine. I want the 2nd round of the playoffs after this year anyway.
Is it really that bad?