They’re also pretty lethargic at getting back on defense, and even though they’re okay on defense for the season, they’re giving up enough points in December to be ranked in the bottom five for defensive rating since December 1 (per NBA.com). They’ve regressed on defense right when they need to get better because Gasol and Nash are out. Mike D’Antoni might place less of an emphasis on defense than Mike Brown did, but if they Lakers want to right the ship, they’ve got to shore up their porous team defense, especially when they turn the ball over and give up easy buckets in transition. Since they don’t force many turnovers themselves, they’re giving opponents more easy looks, and that’s gonna translate into losses no matter how man All-Star appearances your lineup has between them. What’s really scary for Lakers fans is even as they’ve struggled this season, their best player has been playing out of his mind.
The craziest thing about the off-kilter start to the season for the Lakers has been the unbelievable play of Kobe Bryant. He’s leading the league in scoring again, like he did for most of last year before Kevin Durant overtook him in the season’s final month, but he’s been a lot more efficient while doing so. He’s shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc on the season. Those percentages are the highest of his Hall of Fame career. So what the Hell, Los Angeles, Kobe’s holding up his end of the stick. Just think if Kobe had struggled to start the season like most of his teammates? They could be in even more of a hole than they are now. But there are simple explanations for some of their struggles.
Basically, a lot of the Lakers’ issues turning the ball over and not getting back on defense can be tied to all the changes this offseason and the quick coaching change to start the season. New coach Mike D’Antoni is still figuring out what works with his new personnel, and after the Lakers tried the Princeton offense to start the season, now they’re playing the up-tempo D’Antoni style he favored in Phoenix. Except, they’re playing with Chris Duhon at point rather than Steve Nash, and all of the players – not to mention plays – are in a state of flux. They’re basically playing without a training camp like last season, so growing pains are to be expected.
But if the playoffs started today, the Lakers and their $100 million payroll wouldn’t make the cut. Through the season’s first quarter, they’re 11th in the Western Conference after last night’s loss at home. Maybe their trip to the East will help them bond, and maybe Nash and Gasol come back during their road trip to help right the ship. But right now, today, Lakers fans have to be worried. Their wheelings and dealings this offseason, not to mention their coaching change after just four games, don’t seem to be working. While it’s not quite time to panic, obnoxious Laker fans shouldn’t exactly be boasting right now. They’re a messed-up bunch, with only three quarters of the season left to figure it out. God only knows what will happen if this trend continues.
What’s really wrong with the Lakers?
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