State of the Lakers: April 13

J.M. Poulard —  April 13, 2013

 

The Los Angeles Lakers have won five of their past six games to solidify their hold on the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Their victory over the Golden State Warriors last night despite Stephen Curry’s 47-point eruption should have been cause for celebration. Although some of us had some trepidation about stating Pau Gasol was back to his 2010 form, his triple double last night certainly erased some of the doubts many had about the Spaniard’s ability to rise to the occasion.

And then all of Los Angeles fell as their very own incarnation of James Bond was victimized in the Lakers’ version of Skyfall.

Kobe Bryant has an Achilles tear and thus will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 regular season as well as a part of the 2013-14 campaign.

No matter how many tributes are painted about the Laker soldier, there just isn’t any way to truly illustrate how painful this setback is for both the franchise and the league as a whole.

In today’s NBA, Kobe Bryant is the Los Angeles Lakers.

But starting tomorrow, it no longer is the case. This isn’t meant in any way, shape or form as a means of minimizing Bryant’s value or importance.

But the saddest thing about his absence is just that: he is no longer a player that can help the team on the hardwood this season.

Although it’s tough to predict if this is even possible, Mike D’Antoni must get the players to regroup for two regular season games. These contests aren’t just about the immediate future, they have a bearing on the franchise’s next steps.

The Purple and Gold must figure things out and band together. It’s an incredibly difficult proposition to ask the guys to “suck it” and go out and win two more games, but make no mistake that’s exactly how Kobe would approach the situation if say Dwight Howard had been the one who had been injured.

As odd as this may sound, the future is now.  The Hollinger Playoff Odds give the Lakers a 79.1 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Utah Jazz who trail the Lake Show have a 20.9 percent probability of overtaking the final Western Conference playoff spot.

The schedule breakdown for the Lakers:

  • Sunday April 14: San Antonio Spurs
  • Wednesday April 17: Houston Rockets

Both games will be played at home.

This might be a little scary but there’s no way around it. In the 19 minutes the Lakers played this season without Kobe Bryant against the Spurs, the Lakers scored 80.2 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. Projected over a full season, that’s easily the worst figure in the league.

As it pertains to the Rockets, in 32 minutes without Bryant, NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us the Lakers scored 91.9 points per 100 possessions. It’s an improvement in comparison to the numbers against the Spurs, but still worthy of last place in the Association.

The sample sizes are incredibly small obviously.

The Lakers will now have to mix and match and then figure out which lineups work best. It stands to reason D’Antoni will always have either Gasol or Howard on the floor if the team will remain successful.

The sky has officially fallen in Los Angeles. Now it’s time for damage control.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

J.M. Poulard

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49 responses to State of the Lakers: April 13

  1. Come back soon Kobe. This first taste of Laker life without you is bitter and empty.

  2. If we are looking at the state of the lakers shouldn’t we also be looking at what we can expect next year?

    What if DH bolts to Houston?

    Dantoni,Jim,amd sadly mitch have essentially set us back probably a decade if DH leaves – we have no picks for what the next 3 years – amd I believe that they were all sent out unprotected – pheonix looks like they fleeced us in the Nash trade

    Dantoni will have to be fired to calm fans down about this season – I expect him to be booed at every single laker game until he’s gone.

    Primgles did the same thing to amare in new York and phoenix as he has done to Kobe here and still plays a super tight 7 man rotation even when 3-4 players in that rotation are hurt.

    I camt believe he is worse than brown …. Terrible year

    Jeanie please run the team with Phil

  3. Nobody set the Lakers a decade, i dont agree with everything Jim Buss does but lets not be overdramatic, i cant bash a guy that on his first move after getting real power was try to bring Chris Paul and then scored Nash and Dwight, if thats not thinking big i dont know what it is. About the draft picks, who cares? I mean, first this year class is weak, second even if the Lakers have the picks what they getting? late 1st rounders at best,after Bynum the Lakers who the Lakers drafted of note? NOBODY. Third i still dont get how people dont realize that after next season even if we resign Dwight the Lakers will be more than 40 million under the cap, if Howard bolts wich i really really doubt they be more than 60 million under the cap and we all know the lure of LA for big time free agents, i dont understand why people dont realize this especially since its been the plan since they gave the contract extensions to Kobe and Pau, they tried to win with Kobe now without sacrificing the team long term financial future. And finally, the Lakers dont rebuilt, they reload. They be fine regardless of what happen to Vino. And finally i bet Kobe will be back on opening night or at the latest on December, he is going to go on Mamba mode on that rehab.

  4. Actually Shaun it’s not that bleak. We have 1st round picks in 2014 and 2016. Also currently only Nash is under contract for 2014 so we will have maximum cap space in 2014 to start the rebuilding process. Also even if Howard decided to leave we could do a sign and trade. Being over the cap we can not receive a player back in a sign and trade but we can send a player to a team under the cap. Considering it means an extra year for Howard I am sure he would be open to it. Both Dallas and Atlanta could take him in a trade. The Nets couldn’t so I am pretty sure he will stay here. I also fully expect to see Kevin Love in a Laker uniform in 2015 if we leave a salary slot open for him. Everyone knows he wants to play here. (edited for trade speculation)

  5. Ignore Shaun. Nothing in that comment makes any sense. I swear, some fan live in a fantasy land where only they know what’s best for the team.

  6. 16 and 12 won’t cut it. I hope that’s not all Dwight can muster up these last 2 games.

  7. I am not sure Kobe’s injury changes too much this year. We really weren’t championship contenders this year – what with our inability to stop perimeter players.

    For next year this injury simply puts the Laker plans in a stark outline. It was planned to be this year and next or bust. Well, this year didn’t work out and that puts the need for athletic wings on a must have basis. Even with Kobe this was true, but not so obvious for fans. With Jordan Hill in the fold next year, I think the team will simply have to make changes that will bring it into closer alignment with what MDA had in mind this year. Regardless when he comes back, Kobe will see a different type of team when he returns.

    The following year was always going to be a radical reworking, but some of that may have been moved up to next year.

  8. Kobe will serve as an inspiration to all of us. Man, I’m crying in tears right now never seen that coming.

    But I know, we know, we need to move on and still support Kobe no matter what. I’m always saying it to myself to appreciate ones achievements when one is still here because he/she will be missed when gone.

    Sad man…epic

  9. Im sad for kobe..but happy that dwight and pau will get more touches..so they can prove they suck

  10. I 80 to 90% sure Dwight will stay here, i dont want too sound too pessimistic but these Mega Mamba/Vino performances we were treat to this past month or so might be the last we see out of him im triying to reach back to memory lane and when Dominic Wilkings tore his heel, he came back but he was never the same, productive? yes but he wasnt the human highlight no more. Im chalking Dwight troubles this season to his bad back, but now he has to seize the moment and grab this franchise by the horns and take control if he doesnt and on top of that leaves his career will be defined by one word”Coward”, the Lakers will survive Dwight leaving, Dwight’s reputation not, it really saddens me but im afraid the Mamba era as we know it might be over.

  11. According to NBA TV, Kobe underwent successful surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon. Estimated time of recovery is 6-9 months.

    Devastating, to say the least. The only thing that I will say about MD’A in regards to this situation is that he should have tried to develop his bench more. A short rotation may work in the playoffs , but during the long and grueling regular season a team’s depth can be its salvation. I won’t be sad if he is no longer the Lakers’ coach after this season. I don’t blame him entirely, but he certainly contributed to this nightmare season for the team with his skittish, uncertain coaching style.

  12. Kobe foretold his future recently when he said basically that he could prolong his career by becoming more of a point/combo guard. I don’t think his NBA journey is over, yet.

  13. Watching MD’A in his presser last night was just maddening. He now claims the Lakers have enough to win without Kobe. If he believes that, then why couldn’t he have found some recourse to running his horse into the soap factory??? I realize that he just can’t start wringing his hands and crying woe is me, but he is hard to take seriously. Desperation is a very unappealing quality in a leader, and Mike reeks of it.

  14. Hope you´re doing alright Robert, on this site at least you´re the #1 Mamba fan and i can imagine how down in the dumps you must be feeling –
    KB´ll be back with a legendary-beyond-all-comparison final push for his 6th & 7th rings!! Guaranteed!
    Love You Mamba!
    & KennyT, great post on the development of the bench

  15. Kenny

    The one good thing about the Kobe disaster is the Lakers finally have a real coach who understands motivation, adjustments and has the players respect.

    Kobe will be no doubt be on the bench the last few games and the playoffs so Mike Daaa you can stay home and practice your mumbling.

  16. Kobe will be no doubt be on the bench the last few games and the playoffs so Mike Daaa you can stay home and practice your mumbling.
    ____________

    hahahahahahahahahahaha – fantastic wit Ken

  17. Dear Dwight,

    You have just been handed the keys. You signed here to be “the man.” Time to see what you got.

    Sincerely,
    Fate

  18. Robert : A request.
    For the next match preview, please make the 1st post a Kobe alert. It would be fitting. A Poignant salute like the missing man formation. Hopeful for both that next game and for getting Kobe back eventually.
    Please.

  19. Kobe underwent successful surgery. What form he’ll eventually regain only time will tell, but it’s not over yet by any means. There’s no way he wanted to go out like this so he’ll do everything he can to get back onto the court next year. As Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

    And completely agree that if Dwight has been complaining about not being the main guy in the franchise, well he just got his chance. Don’t pull a 2010 LeBron on us, please!

  20. Lakers’ best option, I think, is to play Inside-Out and slow the game down….way way way down…MikeD probably needs to suck it up and play to the strengths.

  21. Warren Wee Lim April 13, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Interesting day. I saw Kobe go down on that heel last night and it seemed like it never would be possible to sideline the immortal Kobe. But when he never came back and further reports confirmed our dread, its time to bring a new mindset into the perspective.

    Kobe isn’t going to help us on the court now, aside from a few coaching in the sidelines… so its time to bring the focal point of the offense to work: Pau Gasol. Maybe its the injury maybe its the overfatigue… now maybe its the mindset and maybe its the rest he got but he is now our best offensive option.

    As for the near future, 2014 will be more interesting than 2013. This is the season where the Lakers would plan for its immediate present and future. Be prepared to lose Dwight, have Pau and Nash get traded all in one season. Seriously.

  22. jm: kobe bryant. gives new meaning to the term, proactive. let’s examine: he’s a pro and he’s active. seriously, most of us will still be hemming and hawing as to what to do in a similar situation. hell, most of us put off a root canal until stupid sets in and we fnally take care it.

    time to start praying for the bear. kobe bryant, he’s fast on his way to recovery. bank it.

    Go Lakers

  23. clipe beat memphis…that should help the game against Utah being relevant, but its still a bit too hard to tell. Need Memph. to win in Dallas next game, I am assuming or perhaps Denver can help keep that game relevant by losing. Clips losing their next would also help (small chance).

  24. Under the new CBA, the reality has always been that the Lakers would need to sacrifice one season soon in order to drop under the salary cap to reset the escalating repeater tax. I thought that it would be 2014 that would be sacrificed, but if Dwight walks this summer or if Kobe needs more time to heal, we might as well sacrifice 2013 so that we can better reload for 2014.

  25. Word on D-League grapevine is that Lakers are lining up Andrew Goudelock for a callup for some backcourt reinforcement

    –Stein

  26. Goku..

    I mean Kobe, noooooooooooooooooooooo!

  27. http://instagram.com/p/YDpvSYRNlS/

    kobebryant
    Surgery prep time. Lookin like Mrs Doubtfire with a jerri curl cap lol Anesthesia next #highasakite #mambaout

  28. So we dont already have enough d leaguers on the bench that we have to get another? MDA should just play darius morris more instead of getting another meeks type of player in Goudelock

  29. First and foremost, I would like to second what Purple Blood stated in regards to Robert. He, along with Craig W. and LT Mitchell (off the top of my head, tho’ I am sure that there are several others) are the most Hard-Body Kobe Fans within the FB&G Community, IMO. Personally, I was awaiting your (Robert) comment and through it, I can feel you pain. Hold your head my man; the Mamba will strike again. Betz to believe that.

    Barth: I agree.

    Who knows how Kobe’s injury will affect the thought pattern of Dwight Howard. I, for one, hope that he has the Heart and Determination to sign long term with us because if you’re going to start the rebuilding process (which, trust me, after Kobe’s injury, has already begun for us), the best position to start at is Center. Where Dwight, while not even 100% as of yet, is still the best Big in the Association IMO.

  30. Kobe will come back next season for his last run. And fasten your seat belts; it will be a memorable one.

  31. kobe can return next season around as early as opening night right? though i would prefer if he returns around 2014 for him to fully recover.
    I just hope that by that time, our team is solid and no other injuries have happened. (with dwight with us of course)

  32. Am not a medical expert but what is the diff between a torn achilles vs a raptured achilles? But if a recall it, David Beckaham completely tore his left achilles tendon and was able to comeback 100% and a month earlier than projected.

    Between Bsketball and football whichnof the two sports require a better achilles?

  33. thanks for the shout out Tra;
    i´m looking forward to Robert´s post this afternoon (which, as someone else has mentioned, should be first as always)
    Just saw the pic Mamba posted pre-surgery, LOL! KB hasn´t lost his sense of humor – Robin Williams beware! :)
    Let´s get ´em tonight Lakers!

  34. Hard to imagine a 35 year old coming off a torn Achilles in what will be his 18th season will regain his explosiveness and lift. If so, perhaps Kobe can use this season to remake himself into a different kind of player for his closing act.

    Phil Jackson came to LA and won a title with Ron Harper running the point. Kobe showed himself to be very adept at running the point this year, and were the Lakers to being back Phil (or, as rr posited, bring in Brian Shaw), re-sign Dwight, and trade Pau for a solid wing, one could see the team abandon this foolish MDA experiment and move back to a system that works for the talent they actually have.

    One thing I think we can easily rule out, however, is a return to glory by bringing back this team and coach, and expecting next year’s version (with a backcourt that is not only OLD but both coming off injuries) to be remotely competitive for a title.

  35. you guys are completely wrong. kobe needs to get bigger and start playing the the small forward position and stay in the paint. last thing we want kobe doing is playing point guard like this year.

  36. Sufian, that might work if Kobe was an off the ball player and if the Lakers had a legit PG. Neither is true, and you can’t initiate an offense with a ball dominant SF unless his name is Lebron James. Running the triangle with an old former SG is something that has actually worked….

  37. Funky, true story, this morning, as I was contemplating the future of our Lakers, not only was I envisioning Kobe returning and starting a new (and final) chapter as a PG, but the prototype who I used was also Ron Harper. As you mentioned, this year, due to the fact that The Steve’s were out, Kobe gave us a preview of what he could do at the point. I definitely believe that Kobe, who happens to be one of, if not, the smartest players in the history of the league, can be a much better version of Harper. Also, keep in mind, that Kobe himself hinted at the possibility of moving to the point somewhere down the line a few weeks ago. Now just might be the time.

  38. At least some good news… So Dr Clapper said where this injury was career ending a couple years ago there have been advances to where players like David Becham can come back closer to 100 percent and in half the time.

  39. Tra, great minds….

    For me it always was the logical way for Kobe to wind down his career. Until this year, however, I wasn’t certain that it would work, but after his PG-esque season, he has clearly shown he can play that role. He’s faster and more athletic than Harper, shoots better, is a superior passer, and better defender. I think they’d still need to pick up a defensive-minded SG to compliment Kobe (and to share the duties of defending opposing PGs), but the beauty of this is that they could go with a shorter 2 (like a Shumpert type, or even a slightly better Darius Morris).

    Jordan put on weight and moved to the SF role to end his career, but he was still a ball dominant player. That, in turn, brought the offense to a standstill, something every teammate of Carmelo Anthony before this year can relate to. I don’t see that as a recipe for success.

    In my view, it’s better to acknowledge that as long as he is here, Kobe will dominate the ball. If that’s the case, it seems better and more effective to allow him to be a playmaker, getting shots for himself where he can, and creating opportunities for teammates with his league-best basketball IQ that you alluded to.

    That this transition would allow the team to return to the most effective system the NBA over the last 25 years (while abandoning the “system” that has brought D’Antoni and others a total of zero chips), is just common sense to me. Kobe, after all, has won no titles outside the triangle system, and that is likely to continue if they try to recreate this year’s strategy next season….

  40. Funky: Your last paragraph makes sense, but this logic could have been applied when deciding between Shaw and Brown, and then again when deciding between PJ and MD. Why do you think that logic will prevail in the next season?

  41. Robert, I’m not saying that it will prevail; only that it should.

    Some people need to be unmistakably proven wrong before they can get it right. Jim Buss thought the problem with Mike Brown was that he played too slow.

    With that mindset, MDA is a great pick, because he disdains half court, inside out basketball. So, Buss (the son and the father) went with the guy with the more “exciting” system, only to see up close that defense wins titles, and fast paced teams generally don’t start 4 guys in their mid-30’s.

    Running an up tempo system with the same team next year (only with their best player now 35 and coming off a torn achilles) would appear to be an even more obvious mistake after this dreadful season….

  42. Great points Funky.

    Robert I think you know the answer to your question. Jim Buss wants to completely separate HIS team from anything remotely connected to Phil Jackson. That means coaches, offense, scouts, office(he now has Phi’s). This was always about Phil/Jeanne vs Jimmy. It never was about basketball decisions. It has always and will continue to be about Jimmy showing all who is in control.

    Bad decision hiring Brown, bad decision firing scouts, bad decision changes coaches, worst decision hiring MD. As long as Jim Buss is in control this team will be stuck in reverse. I know for a fact that Mitch
    wanted Shaw and pushed to have Phil rehired.

    Winners create winners. Tell me one thing Jimmy has done to command the respect to be called a winner. That being said only a change in ownership can change the future of the team I care about.

  43. We fans always base the future off the past. An example is our inability to view Kobe in the PG position until he successfully accomplished it at times this year.

    The future always brings change. Most of it, like mutations, fails – often miserably – but it is none-the-less essential to the evolution of the human race – i.e. the NBA.

    MDA did succeed in changing the way the NBA plays the game, but – much in the way Don Coryell did in the NFL – he hasn’t won a chip. This doesn’t mean he is a failure, nor does it mean he can’t either change again or win the big prize.

    MDA has changed the way he coached to get more out of his players this year. Why do we assume he has to go back to his roots and can’t learn from his experience this year?

    The only reason I can come up with is that we fans presume only the past will predict the future – i.e. we can’t really imagine change before it occurs. This is actually the human norm – it is the exceptional individual who imagines change and the really exceptional person who is able to initiate it.

  44. I am unequivocal in my support for signing Dwight and think he will sign here.

    I love how Pau has been playing as he shows his value and I think he is the key piece the team can trade to get some perimeter help. I’m not speculating on a trade. I know this specific example would not happen, but getting a guy LIKE Paul George would be special.

    I like the idea of Kobe returning as a rich-man’s Ron Harper. BTW, Hollywood played very good defense. He was a little more limited with us in 2000 but he was an excellent defender with the Bulls.

    Nash coming off the bench would be interesting, if Kobe becomes the starting PG. Having a knock down shooter with playmaking coming off the bench, that could be our scoring off the bench option.

    The variety of athletic defenders with shooting ability one might get in a Pau trade still leaves us short in the PF and all this relies on Kobe coming back as an approximation of his current self. If nothing else, a healthy Dwight with athletic wings and shooters with some playmaking ability has been shown to succeed. The team needs to get younger, more athletic, and better defensively at the perimeter.

    It seems very short odds for this to happen for a number of reasons, namely Kobe taking on the challenge of coming back for opening day, but… If the Lakers were to amnesty Kobe while he recovered and took 2013-14 off, would be it be legal to then sign him once the current contract expires?

  45. Craig, we shouldn’t let the past blind us to the potential of a different future, but neither should we pretend that the past is irrelevant in projecting the future. MDA knows how to coach young, athletic teams in a manner that is entertaining and, when he has the right personnel, regular season wins. He does not, however, have a system that works in the postseason, and he has shown nothing (in Phoenix, NY, or LA) to suggest that he has the kind of defensive system or knowledge to take a team all the way.

    When was the last fast-breaking, high pace team to win a title? Showtime? Even then, Riley was a stickler for defense and rebounding (“no rebounds, no rings”). MDA is, at best, half the coach that Riley was, and that’s just not good enough around these parts.

  46. Interesting that Nash is working out before the game. Guess he doesn’t feel quite perfect yet.

    Could be difference between Kobe and Nash. Hope Steve feels better by summer time.

  47. Ken,
    Nash said pre-game that he still can’t sprint full out. So, while he’s able to shoot and move around okay, he can’t really run hard. Also mentioned he’s “infuriated” at not being able to play. I know you dislike Nash (or at least the signing), but I think it’s probably best to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

  48. Folks….KB24 is in all likelihood done. It takes a year to even get close to coming back from an Achilles. Chances are he wont have the lift or explosion he had before. He could change his game but he will not be the same player. It is a bitter-ending for a great Laker! So, that coupled with the horrible deal for Steve Nash basically means this team will be hampered paying for players that cannot even get on the floor. We have given away most of our draft picks and the young players we have like Darius Miles have no business being in the NBA…he is a D-League player and should not even be on this roster.

    The time has truly come for the Laker braintrust to look past the Kobe years and build the team around DH12. The Lakers are truly fortunate in the fact they have a guy who is a top 5 player. We forget that DH12 is still coming off back surgery and he is just starting to look like himself. This guy is a beast and that fact we have had games were guys like Earl Clark and Jodie Meeks got more shots than DH12 tell you something is wrong with the Lakers current system. Now DAntoni has no choice but utilize the bigs which are the strength of this team anyway. Put some players around DH12 that compliment his talents and build that way.

    The problem with the Lakers before KB24’s injury was that there was no one left in the organization (I imagine only Dr. Buss) that could put Kobe in check. And he would have lingered over this franchise for another 2 to 3 years. This could actually be the thing that helps them most in the long run and allows the DH12 era to truly begin.