This is it. We’ve reached it as a team and as a fan base: rock bottom. The Lakers are now 2-4 on their Grammy Road Trip with the 115-105 loss to the also struggling Orlando Magic, but have one more chance to get a win against the drama filled New York Knicks. But with Carmelo Anthony dropping 62 points on a team that actually plays defense and all, things aren’t looking too good for the Lakers.
Who do we point the finger at? Jim Buss? D’Antoni? Mark Madsen?! The truth is, there’s more than just one problem with this Lakers team. If it were not for the injuries, who’s to say that maybe they would be 10 games better? Maybe? The injuries are a big part of why the Lakers are really struggling to pull it together. They are disrupting the lineup and they are making it almost impossible for the players to figure out their identity as a team. The only ones who prove night in and night out that they have heart are Nick Young and Jordan Hill without question. Nick Young shows the most emotion on the team and he tries to share his energy with his teammates all the time. Every time Jordan Hill goes in, he’s playing with intensity in the paint, fighting and scrapping for boards. Yes, Pau Gasol has been averaging 16.7 points and 10 rebounds this season, but he’s proven to have lost his will to play here. His intensity has noticeably diminished and it has created a shroud of negativity around the Lakers; Gasol is supposed to be their leader but he has fallen into going through the motions.
Defense has also (for some odd reason) continued to be a problem for the Lakers. Last night against the Magic, the Lakers allowed Tobias Harris (a player who averages 13.7 points and 7.8 assists) to drop 28 points and pull down 20 rebounds. He had 11 and 10 at the 6 minute mark in the 2nd, then finished the half with 17 and 13. One would assume that at halftime the Lakers coaching staff and the players would have come up with a plan to halt momentum Harris was amassing, but they failed to do so for the rest of the game letting Harris to achieve a double-double and score 17 points above his average. Harris became the 20th player to get a career high against the Lakers this season after last night’s game. 20 times this season teams have found a way for ONE PLAYER to destroy the Lakes defense as a whole. That says a lot about the basketball intelligence of the coaching staff for the Lakers. Clearly the players do not even believe in the defensive philosophy because they still have not shown any signs of improvement. The Lakers offense also struggles with ball security. Turnovers have been a nightmare for the Lakers this season as they have been averaging about 15 a game.
The Lakers organization needs to advance their thinking in a sense that they must stop thinking, “What can we do to save this season?” because this season is lost. They need to let their hurt players reach full health and return whenever they can. Sitting Kobe for the rest of the season isn’t such a bad idea either, seeing as how it would give him more time to heal and actually be able to contribute for the last two years of his $48.5 million contract extension. Bringing Kobe back to 15 turnovers a game, no defense, and being out-rebounded every night would only force him to have to try to carry the team, and he can’t do that at this point in his career without risking his health.
Looking forward, the NBA trade deadline is coming up and the Lakers should really consider trying to get something of value for Pau Gasol, especially because he will probably be exploring free agency after his contract is up. Carmelo Anthony, Greg Monroe, Kevin Love, and (highly unlikely but also an option…) Lebron James are all options to consider moving forward. It also looks as though the Lakers will be making some significant additions in the upcoming draft; however, the draft is wildly inconsistent and has just as much chance of being historic as being a bust. That is why scouting this young talent should be high on the priorities list of the organization. A point guard (preferably one with ball security) and a big man (preferably with attitude, intensity and heart) would be huge improvements for the Lakers. They have been living in the past with regards to the type of players that comprise their roster. The NBA has evolved and point guards now play a dominant role in the league. This draft is a chance for the Lakers to take some steps toward adapting to the other teams in the league.