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

Friday, February 1, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 18. Los Angeles Lakers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  15-15,  third place Pacific Division

This Month:

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

  • Points Scored: 103.0 (5th)
  • Points Allowed: 100.2 (25th)
  • Team FG%: .455 (9th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .445 (16th)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.9 (3rd)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.5 (10th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.8 (29th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.5 (26th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Kobe Bryant (30.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  Dwight Howard (11.8)
  • Minutes per game: Kobe Bryant (38.7)
  • Assists per game: Steve Nash (7.7)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Dwight Howard (.572)
  • Steals per game: Metta World Peace (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Dwight Howard (2.5)

Worst Player of the Month:  Pau Gasol

He has not been the same since three years ago when the Lakers won their last NBA title and has been the target of much ire and disapproval in Laker Land. Pau Gasol was once the golden child--the Spanish boy wonder to Kobe Bryant's Batman.  Unfortunately, it seems that what was once one of the vital pieces of the Lakers three Finals appearances and two NBA championships has fallen out of since with his teammates and out of favor with team management and coaching staff.  He has been having the worst season in his career posting career lows across the board, and has yet to find his place in the new world order.  Gasol's poor performance has certainly hampered the Lakers as it has put more pressure on Kobe Bryant to take up a bigger scoring load and at 35 years old, he should not have to.     
First Player of the Month:  Kobe Bryant

At 34 years old, Kobe Bryant has had to dig deeper than he has ever had to bring his Lakers out of the hole they had put themselves in and return them to respectability.  Over the past two years, Kobe has had to compensate for the Lakers lackluster performance on the bench along with current slow start that has his team currently out of the playoff  race.  He has shown obvious signs of his age as he has become a step slower choosing to shoot outside instead of slicing to the basket and getting beaten on the defensive end on a regular basis.   At the same, however, he still remains the sole reason why the Lakers have not been any worse than they could be.  The question remains on whether or not Kobe can keep continuing at this pace without completely shutting down--only time will tell how long he can continue to carry the Lakers on his aging and weary shoulders.  

After struggling to reach .500 in the first month of the season, the Lakers have continued the trend in December going 7-7 for the month and finishing 2012 on a mediocre note with a .500 record.  They struggled quite heavily losing six of their first seven games falling to supposedly inferior   teams such as the Orlando Magic (12/2/2012), Houston Rockets (12/4/2012), Utah Jazz (12/9/2012) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (12/11/2012) in addition to losing to such league heavyweights as the Oklahoma City Thunder (12/7/2012) and New York Knicks (12/13/2012).  Their only win came at the expense of the New Orleans Hornets (12/5/2012), the Lakers handily massacred on the Hornets' home court leaving L.A in an even bigger hole than they had fallen in on November.  The Lakers did manage  to save face, however, as they finished the month strong by winning six of their last seven game as they escaped the NBA cellar and managed to stay in mediocrity.

Despite finishing December on a positive note, it still does not look as if the Lakers have finally turned a corner and are ready to take a giant step forward this season.  Even though they have started putting up big numbers on the score board scoring 100 or points every game, they still seem rather listless on the defensive end as they allowed as many points from the opponents as well.  This is certainly not what Lakers fans envisioned what would happen this season, especially since their team come into the 2013 season after having arguably one of the most successful off-seasons in NBA History.  Despite being WAY over the salary cap, the Lakers still managed to snag one of the league's all time greatest point guards in Steve Nash and managed to wrangle via the league's most sought after big man in Dwight Howard.  With a starting five consisting of four NBA All Stars, Lakers' had already filled their heads with champagne wishes and caviar dreams as they looked froward to their Laker team to hang another championship banner on top of the rafters of the Staples Center.

Unfortunately that has not come to fruition as this assembly of basketball titans have fallen well short of expectations as their team has been a complete embarrassment, to say the least.  With a payroll of more than 100$ million, this Laker team is reminiscent of another NBA team that found itself buried had been dragged down by a mountain of overpaid and untradeable salaries.  Just a few short years ago, the New York Knicks suffered such as fate as they too had the misfortune of accumulating very high priced contracts of under performing players that literally made the team a virtual laughing stock.  Like that Knicks team, the Lakers find themselves capped out without any way of upgrading their complete mess of a team.  Add the fact that Lakers owner, Jerry Buss will be paying close to $150 million in luxury tax penalties for the next three or so years  Thanks to the NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

And it is not as if the team's front office can shake the team with a coaching change--they had already done that five games into the season firing Mike Brown and replacing him with an even more unworthy coach in Mike D'Antoni.  D'Antoni had already made a fool of himself after his four year debacle in New York and now would be expected to pick up the pieces from management's rash ousting of Mike Brown while coaching the Lakers to another championship banner.  From what has gone on thus far this season, it is quite obvious that D'Antoni was the wrong choice from the start as he has allowed the team's defense to literally fall by the waist side and be in even worse shape than it was when Mike Brown started the season.  Adding insult to injury, the Lakers had the chance to bring back the only man that could have fixed this entire mess, but chose instead to hire already exposed fraud in D'Antoni because of selfish pride and jealousy.  Now the front office virtually has its hands tied as they have invested so much in an unworthy coach and will certainly look even more foolish firing that one as that would be the second coach in the season making mangement look like even bigger fools than before.

After all the turmoil that has occurred thus far, it is hard to determine whether this sad state of affairs for the Lakers can be considered either a tragedy or a comedy.  It is certainly tragic for Lakers fans who had their hearts set on watching another magical run to an NBA Title; however, at the same time it is quite comedic with all the events that have occurred thus far.  In the course of a season, what was once a highly revered and respected organization has become a virtual laughing stock and an ongoing soap opera.  And sad to say, if the Lakers do not turn things around soon, they will have the added embarrassment of being the most expensive and high profile team to miss the playoffs.  One can only hope that their run of winning six of seven game carries on to the season because if it does not, it is going to be one long hard season for the purple and gold.