What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Monday, December 10, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 21. Los Angeles Lakers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  7-8,  third place Pacific Division

This Month:
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 100.7 (8th)
Points Allowed: 96.6 (13th)
Team FG%: .463 (6th)
Opponent’s FG%: .440 (14th)
Rebounds per game: 45.2 (6th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 39.0 (1st)
Turnovers per game: 16.9 (29th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 14.1 (23rd)

 Individual Statistical Leaders

Scoring (ppg): Kobe Bryant (26.9)
Rebounds per game:  Dwight Howard (10.6)
Minutes per game: Kobe Bryant/ Dwight Howard (36.5)
Assists per game: Kobe Bryant (5.1)
Steals per game: Metta World Peace (2.1)
Blocked Shots per game: Dwight Howard (2.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Your guess is as good as mine.

Coming out of the gates, the Lakers look old, weary and rather listless resulting in their poor start and the subsequent firing of their head coach, Mike Brown.  For a team that consisted of not one, not two, not three, but four All Stars and future Hall of Famers to start the season 1-4 is completely irreprehensible.  There is not really anything worth saying about an aging starting five that has cost the team close to $83 million to assemble and has thus far played embarrassingly pitiful for the past month.  Right now, this pathetic excuse of a team rests at 7-8 for the season and despite allusions of the team improving, there is no way a Laker team such as this will ever challenge anyone for an NBA title, especially not the Miami Heat.  Right now in this early season, the joyous feelings of excitement and anticipation for Laker fans have thus been replaced by that of disdain and disgust. 
First Player of the Month:  I think have already answered that above L

As mentioned before, if there is nobody deserving enough to be considered the worst, how can there be someone worth mentioning to be the first?  Nobody on that Laker squad has played acceptable enough to deserve such an honor.  Even Kobe Bryant, who lead the Lakers in scoring, assists and minutes played, needs to hang his head in shame for the pathetic performance and effort that both he and his teammates has put forth thus far this season.  Neither has the Laker’s grandest off season acquisition Dwight Howard deserves to be considered the team’s top performer as his play is nowhere as dominant it was once before.  To simply pick one name out if this pile of rubbish is so impalpable that it is sickening to even continue writing this piece.

For years Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been acting with impunity thumbing his nose at the NBA’s salary cap and the luxury tax that came with going over it.  He used his limitless resources to cover the more than 50$ million in luxury tax penalties without even batting an eye while finding ways to still acquire top talent despite his team’s salary cap has been surpassed almost two-fold. His front office pulled off two of the biggest moves in the offseason acquiring one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game in Steve Nash via a sign and trade deal while at the same time snagging the league’s best big man, Dwight Howard in one of the most financially complicated trade deals in NBA history.  Basketball fans that do not Lakers fans would have to look in absolute disdain at another rich NBA team swiping up all the top talent in the league and buying their way into the NBA Finals.  Unfortunately for poor Jerry Buss, fortune would not shine his way as the supposedly majestic Laker team that he assembled has stumbled out of the gates with a 7-8 start and have struggled thus far in this young—a far cry from the lofty expectations that his mega team were supposed to fulfill.

The Lakers went into the preseason very complacent and disinterested allowing themselves to get blown out in every game, but still many just disregarded that as important.   Since the preseason games have no bearing on their standings most of the league’s top teams do not even bother making any effort during that time rather choosing to rest their key players in favor of evaluating those who are trying to make the final cut of the roster.  Unfortunately, that poor lackadaisical attitude carried on into the regular season as the Lakers would lose four of their first five games with two of them coming from two teams that LA had no business losing to.  They lost their first game to a shorthanded and over the hill Dallas Mavericks team (10/30/2012) following that by getting blown out by the Portland Trailblazers (10/31/2012), a team that had a rookie starting point guard and no depth to speak of in its roster.  This same team who were slated by many as a shoe in to reach the NBA Finals start so terrible has fans and observers in uproar and a front office panicking to find answers to its team rather embarrassing start.

As with most cases, the coach often end up as the fall guy and it was no exception here as the Lakers unceremoniously fired their head coach, Mike Brown after his team’s embarrassing start.  While it is still debatable on whether or not Browns firing was fair or justified, what can be agreed upon is the Lakers’ choice for his replacement.  Mike D’Antoni was literally chased out of town in New York after proving to the world of how much of a fraud he truly was—that he was not that great a coach, but more of a beneficiary of having Steve Nash on his team.  D’Antoni literally rose to success by hanging onto Steve Nash’s coat-tails while he coached him in Phoenix and showed that as a coach, he was not the brilliant tactician that everyone believed him to be.  One has to especially question the logic of the Laker’s head office on picking such a mediocre coach when Phil Jackson, the man who brought Los Angeles to seven NBA Finals winning five of them, was available and seemed keen to the idea if returning to the head coach’s chair.

The most likely reason for the Buss family especially Jim—the son of Jerry who has taken over most business operations for the team—for not re-hiring Jackson was the fact that the Lakers looked desperate enough scrambling for a coach to replace the one they just fired.  They did not want to seem even more panicked or desperate running with their tails between their legs for Phil to rescue them once again.  It is quite understandable considering the Lakers front office looks bad enough investing close to 90$ million alone in their teams starting five and are unable to upgrade the roster as the team is completely capped out.  The Buss family are already paying close to 50$ million in luxury tax penalties for a team that has been terribly underperforming for the past month and has yet to reach .500.  Running to his quasi-brother in law, Phil Jackson, will make the ownership and the organization look weak and will probably give Jackson a lot of clout in the team’s operations—something that Jim certainly does not want.

For whatever reason the Lakers made their coaching choice, the fact remains that they are no way, shape or form championship contenders.  For a team consisting of three of their four All Stars in the lineup (Steve Nash has been out with an injury), to put on a sub .500 showing with almost a quarter of the regular season is an embarrassment to say the least.  What was supposed to be an unstoppable basketball dynamo now looks like a plodding group of old timers who have reached the end of their storied careers.  Hiring a coach whose philosophy entails a fast pace offensive attack seems to contradict with the old and lethargically slow roster that the Lakers currently have.  All Lakers fans can hope for right now is that their team weathers the storm and finish with a respectable 50 win record because winning a championship is simply not in the cards for this team.