If They Can Keep Their Head…

Kurt —  October 4, 2005

This season’s Laker team has more “ifs” than a Rudyard Kipling poem.

As training camp starts today, no team in the NBA is harder to forecast than these Lakers. That is due to so many “ifs”, so many unanswered questions. They could be a solid playoff team, they could make us fondly remember last season.

So, for the first day of practice, here’s a list of the on-the-court ifs — how good the Lakers will be this season will depend largely on how many of these the Lakers can turn into positives:

If Phil Jackson’s focus and coaching can get this team to play average — not great, just NBA average — team defense (improving from last season’s 29th in the league in defensive efficiency, when they gave up 108 points per 100 possessions);

If Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown can combine into a solid defensive front line;

If the drop off along the front line isn’t too big when Slava, Brain Cook and Corie Blount enter the game;

If Aaron McKie can defensively stay in front of anyone at the point (or will the parade to the basket we saw last year return for an encore?);

If the Lakers can create some turnovers on defense (they were last in the league last season with just 12.5% of opponent possessions ending in turnovers);

If Kwame’s reputation as a poor help defender was not accurate or is something he can overcome;

If Kwame’s reputation as a “sometimes” player is something he can overcome;

If Kwame can pass out of the post;

If Sasha can play any effective backup point guard;

If anyone can play quality backup minutes at the point, or starting point for that matter;

If more time in the triangle will help Lamar Odom and Kobe play more comfortably with each other;

If Scottie Pippen can help Lamar understand how to work within the offense as the second option;

If Odom’s shoulder is close to 100% and does not limit him dramatically;

If the Lakers can find a three-point specialist for crunch time (Jermaine Jones?);

If Phil can manage the backlog of small forwards coming off the bench (does Luke Walton play the two? How about Devean George, putting him and Lamar on the court at the same time?);

And maybe the biggest if out there: If the Lakers can stay healthy.

If they can do most of these, then theirs will be the playoffs and everything that’s in it. And – which is more – they’ll be a real team, my son!

Kurt

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13 responses to If They Can Keep Their Head…

  1. The new site looks fantastic! Have I been gone too long?

  2. A LOT OF IFS BUT CAMPARED TO LAST SEASON …YOU HAVE TO LOVE THERE CHANCES!!!!!!!!!!! LAST SEASON 35 WINS THIS SEASON 55 WINS…COUNT IT.

  3. AND BY THE WAY …LETS GET THIS PARTY STARTED!!!

  4. “IF” you would only believe it can only get better and take it for what REALLY is, JUST A GAME. Enjoy life, enjoy the sport and most of all “KEEP ON TRUCKIN’”!!!!!!!

  5. Ronnster, Bob Costas had a great comment at the end of his show a couple weeks ago, talking about all the people saying how Katrina really put sports in perspective, and to paraphrase he said “the only people who needed sports put in perspective were the ones who lost it in the first place.”

    Myself, and I think the majority of the readers here, have a pretty good perspetive on where the Lakers and sports in general should rank in the world. For me, although I enjoy this site a lot, it’s well behind my family and friends, and hoops is far from my only interest in life.

    And I do believe things are getting better in Laker land. Not overnight, but getting better. We all enjoy the game or we wouldn’t be here.

  6. acceptable list of priorities, in appropriate order:

    [1] lakers
    [2] food
    [3] shelter

    phil’s coming into lamar odom and kwame brown’s life at the exact perfect point in their lives. and he’s also going to get probably the most motivated kobe bryant ever, and that’s saying something. maybe there’s something to that zen stuff.

    i voted for 45-49 wins in your poll and feel it’s a tad optimistic. phoenix won 60 without much of a bench; of course the lakers starters aren’t on an offensive par with phoenix’s. they’ll be a better defensive squad than last year’s suns team.

    i read this morning that kobe’s slimmed down to 214. his trainer was quoted as saying he’s as fast as any point guard in the league now.

    things look good.

  7. If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

    If these “boys” (Kobe, Odom, Mihm, Brown) can open themselves up to learn, dare I say sit at the foot of their masters (Cap, Hodges, Pippen), hey may not “snatch the pebble”, but they will be hopefully be on their way to returning this franchise to respectability and contention.

    Here’s hoping for another quick Laker turn around. It was a long time from ’88 to ’00.

    Forgive the lame Kung-Fu reference, but “If” always reminds of that master-pupil ananlogy.

  8. You never have to appologize for a Kung Fu refernece on this site. I love that show.

    I didn’t want to get into the off-the-court/media issues, but to me the first two lines of this poem really apply to Kobe this season, which is another reason I used it.

  9. I think that in 2 yrs Brown will be similar to Jermaine Oneal and Bynum will be a very legit center. With a slew of SFs, Lamar playin point forward, Kobe coverin the point guards at ends of games and Mihm as a backup center the Lakes will contend. Patience is necessary b/c the future is bright.

  10. “Two-thirds of the practice was defensive mechanics,” Lakers center Chris Mihm said. “I just haven’t seen that in a while in this league. It’s going to create accountability and intensity. I already know this is going to be the most valuable training camp I’ve ever had.”

    From Ric Bucher on ESPN.com

  11. You’re killing me, Gatinho ;-)

    A post I was working on had that quote, now it’s getting tweeked.

  12. One “if” I’d like to throw out, is “if” the Lakers can keep Kobe from wearing down in the second half which seemed to be a problem last year. Keeping him from guarding points, and letting him get a break some nights on the defensive end. I think that will help.