Is The 12th Seed Prediction Too Low For Lakers?

Andre Khatchaturian —  August 15, 2013

It seems like the nation may be underestimating the Los Angeles Lakers the same way they overestimated them last summer.

ESPN released its annual Summer Forecast for the Western Conference this week and the Lakers are projected to finish with 36 wins — 12th in the conference, and out of the playoffs. The projected standings were determined by a panel of 215 members – four of which are our very own and write for Forum Blue and Gold (Emile Avanessian, Philip Barnett, Rey Moralde, J.M. Poulard)

After the standings were released, Kobe Bryant took to Twitter and voiced his opinion.

Kobe’s obviously not pleased with the rest of the country thinking that his team is not playoff material. He will probably use this as fuel to ignite a fire we will see burning on the court when the season commences. He has every reason to disagree with the rankings.

36 wins?

The Western Conference has improved tremendously throughout the summer and the Lakers lost a major piece in Dwight Howard. However, the Lakers still have three sure fire hall of famers on their team in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash. Not many teams can say that.

It’s easy to forgot all the problems the Lakers experienced that they most likely WON’T have to go through this year. Here are a few of them:

  • High expectations: I think the fact that they’re projected to finish 12th means that a simple two-game losing streak won’t be talked about constantly on Mason and Ireland for four hours like it usually does. Low expectations can be a good thing sometimes. The last time people were this down on the Lakers was in 2007-08 and they went to the Finals that year.
  • Lack of chemistry: A class with Breaking Bad’s Walter White wouldn’t even have improved the Lakers chemistry last year. They were a new bunch who never really found a way to play together. Transitioning from the Princeton Offense in training camp to D’Antoni’s fast pace system wasn’t helpful in ameliorating the situation either.
  • Dwight’s baggage: As awful as it is losing Dwight’s on-court production, it’s not necessarily bad that the Lakers won’t have to deal with the outside distractions that come with Howard. Having an upward bump in their free throw percentage will not hurt either.
  • New coach five games into the season: Surely Jim Buss can’t make the same mistake twice, right? Right??? Firing Mike Brown after a 1-4 start was simply wrong. First off, Brown never got a fair shake. Five games is equivalent to one NFL game. No one fires a head coach after just one full training camp after such a small sample size. D’Antoni was Buss’ handpicked guy and he needs to stick with him until the final game no matter what. A full training camp for D’Antoni and roster guys that fit his system like Chris Kaman and Nick Young doesn’t hurt either.
  • Pau at the 4: As Darius Soriano highlighted earlier this week, Gasol is best at the center position. Hopefully he will return there with Howard gone and his numbers will bounce back to where they should be. Also, since the Lakers are thin roster wise, Pau won’t be getting benched this year. There’s no doubt that his benching hurt his psyche last season.
  • Obscene amount of injuries: Injuries happen to every team and the Lakers core is one of the oldest in the league. There’s no doubt that Kobe, Pau, and Nash will miss parts of the season. That said, last year was not normal. Everyone was literally hurt or playing hurt. When Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock are starting in the playoffs, that tells you everything you need to know.

Despite all of this, the Lakers still won 45 games. This season, they will likely be able to get rid of all of those problems (including the injuries with some luck). Let’s not forget, every single Laker (other than Steve Nash and rookies) is playing for a contract. Whether or not moral hazard exists in sports, one has to surmise that if a championship isn’t a motivating factor this year, then hopefully money will be. Bottom line is that if the Lakers were able to win 45 games last year with all that tumult and turmoil, they should be able to win that many games again if they stay healthy and avoid distractions.

With Howard gone and D’Antoni coaching, the team’s biggest weakness will obviously be its defense. They’re not going to fool anyone — they’re going to try to score their way to victory every single night. That has its positives, though. Because of this, they already have an identity. One can make the argument that they never found one last year because of all the injuries and the lack of chemistry.

While teams like the Pelicans, Mavs, Wolves, and Blazers (who are all listed ahead of the Lakers in the projected standings) will be competing for a playoff spot, the Lakers have the talent to be a playoff team, and if they’re not, they’re going to be closer to the 8th seed than the 15th. Currently, Bet Online gives the Lakers the 9th best odds to win the Western Conference. This is still on the outside looking in, but it’s a lot better than being buried in 12th place.

Those odds also may be underrating the Lakers because of the public’s overreaction regarding Howard’s departure. Most people are probably staying away from the Lakers bet, so the bookmakers are giving great odds.

Again, this isn’t a championship caliber team, but let’s not make too much from these predictions. After all, these are the same soothsayers that said that the Lakers were going to be playing the Heat in the NBA Finals last summer.

The games still need to be played and heading into the season, one has to be pretty confident that a squad with three future Hall of Famers, no distractions, limited injuries, an identity, and a bunch of hungry players fighting for a contract will at least land the 7th seed or better.

Andre Khatchaturian

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69 responses to Is The 12th Seed Prediction Too Low For Lakers?

  1. 12th out of 15 sounds about right. Why, because what positive difference can it make coming in 9th or 10th? Would any Laker or Laker fan really find that more satisfying? So unless you feel this Laker team can make the play-offs, how can a 12th place prediction be too low? Only longtime bottom feeding fans of teams like the T-Wolves or Bobcats should beef about the difference in a 9th place or 12th place finish. If you’re not, at the very least, a top 5 team in your conference when the season ends…NBA history says you’re basically a sparring partner in the post-season.

    So yes, 12th place sounds about right.

  2. Re-posted from the prevous thread; postedby Meg:

    From Hollywood Reporter’s feature on Jim and Jeanie (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lakers-owners-jeanie-jim-buss-604909?page=3)

    “But the Lakers need to acquire more than salary-cap room if they want to be in play for the league’s biggest superstars. “They’re living on the History channel,” says one free agent, meaning the team remains convinced that the attraction of playing for the Lakers in L.A. is enough. As one NBA agent notes: “The Lakers were built for a different era. Their personnel has been depleted and [research] infrastructure is outdated. It’s important to be in a major market, but not as important anymore. And they were always able to spend more than other teams. Now they can’t.” A longtime opposing assistant coach adds that free agents feel the Lakers’ track record is impressive but the team is not on the cutting edge when it comes to marketing, physical therapy or analytics. The sense is that institutional arrogance has caused a slow but evident decay. “It hurts to hear that,” says Jeanie, without contesting it.”

  3. I’d rather have low standards and surpass them than what happened last year. I’m hopeful that a full training camp will give some much needed structure.

    Since many players have very short contracts, there should be an incentive to play well, since their livelihood depends on it. So many teams start very slow out of the gate. If the lakers can play with a little more energy in the beginning, they can steal a couple games.

    I’m more amazed that Jim Buss would say something dumb about Howard not being a Laker. He wore the uniform, so he played as a laker. He just sounds bitter. Not smart. Again.

    And I’d spend more time wondering why MDA thinks Jordan Hill should be a stretch 4.

  4. I re-posted Meg’s link and excerpt from the previous thread; it is stuck in mod. Everybody should read it IMO.

    As to the prediction, depending on how much Kobe, Pau, Nash, and Hill can stay on the floor, how much the old guys have in the tank, and on how the FO plays things at the deadline, the Lakers can win anywhere from 20 to about 43 games. So, the logical guess is in the middle of those two numbers.

  5. From the article:
    Kobe: “”He could tell you exactly what he had in mind and how he planned to get it done. And he had a track record.” Well let’s see – we all know there is zero track record now, and let’s ask Dwight Howard about the ability to explain what he had in mind and how he planned to get it done. It certainly has not been explained to the rest of us.
    Raptors owner Leiweke: “Each great organization in the NBA has a great personality that defines them,” Indeed the Heat have Riley, the Spurs have Pop, the Nets have a Russian billionaire, and we have a guy who never takes off his baseball cap, and never tucks in his shirt into his jeans (picture with article a perfect example – although at least these appear to be new jeans).
    The article has a small paragraph on Jim’s successes. It states he got Howard and dealt Bynum right before he was injured. Of course we then proceeded to lose Howard by our own inaction and therefore – what do we have to show for those two big success stories? – Nothing.
    The article reminded me that Jim was credited with hiring of Rudy T, 9 years back. Well – so his coaching hire track record is Rudy T, Mike Brown, and Mike D’Antoni. If only he had somehow worked Rick Pitino (the NBA version) in there.
    “The greatness of a franchise is attributed back to great leadership.” – Jim Buss, Mitch, and Mike D’Antoni. I will simply leave it at that.

  6. an excerpt from the The H.R. feature:
    “I would be more comfortable if I understood what the decision process was, and I’m not always involved in it,” she (Jeanie) says. “To be held accountable by the league and not have a seat at the table when decisions are made is hard.”
    _________
    I believe most Laker fans would as well

  7. 12th sounds about right. We don’t know for sure what Kobe we’re going to get. If we get pre-injury Kobe, definitely too low. If we get no Kobe, maybe even a tad bit high depending.

  8. I love our Lakers as much as any life-long fan, but I can’t see how anyone could say that the 2013-14 Lakers won’t be one of the worst defensive teams of all time. No one on roster rates as league average in defense, and some major pieces (Nash, Young, Kamen, less-than-healthy Kobe) rate among the worst at their positions. And D’Antoni has never concerned himself with coaching defense, so they won’t even be able to rely on a novel defensive scheme to help them out either. Sure, they will score a lot of points, but they won’t be able to stop the other team from doing the same. So yes, 12th sounds about right.

  9. I predicted, a few threads back, that we, along with Denver and Portland, will be vying for the last playoff spot out West. Nothing has been done (including the possibility of Rambis becoming our ‘Defensive Guru’) to alter my train of thought. So I happen to disagree with ESPN.

  10. So I happen to disagree with ESPN.

    Sort of. Here are the projections from 8-12:

    MIN 40-42
    DAL 39-43
    POR 38-44
    NO 37-45
    LAKERS 36-46

    So, their projection system pretty much sees the Lakers as being in a knot of teams trying for the 8th seed. ESPN has Denver 7th at 43-39.

  11. I should say poll rather than system.

  12. “However, the Lakers still have three sure fire hall of famers on their team in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash ” True, but irrelevant. It’s far from certain what they can contribute any more. Nash in particular is running on fumes. Kobe? Well, he can walk, and that’s a start.

    I see the Lakers winning 30-32 games in 2013-2014.

  13. Great analysis. Let’s hope the team stays healthy throughout the season. I also think 45 wins is a better prediction.

  14. rr

    Sorry but there is no way Dallas, NO and Portland wins more games unless 80% of the starters are injured. I respect both you and R but guys are off. This team is better in every position other then center and much better on the bench. Do you guys really think a center with no post move and 50% FT means 13 games. No way, no how. The guy was un-coachable and was a poison pill on a 45 win team with no PG and a crap bench. No way!

  15. Dwight was a hard worker and will be sorely missed on defense, but he certainly wasn’t a chemistry+ kind of player.

    I think people are reacting too much to their Dwight (foundation player), plus Mike D. and Jim Buss hatred. Plus people extrapolate in a linear fashion from the previous year and this yields a really pessimistic outlook.

    First, the Lakers are not championship caliber – get over it. Next, the Lakers look to be a better team than last year – from almost any perspective other than defensive, and even that could surprise us. We will have to work really hard, but this is a team that is more likely to work hard than last year’s team. That is one advantage to losing Dwight.

    Picking us 12th is too much like picking us 10th in 2007/8.

  16. If Kobe’s wrath can further be stoked by ESPN around 48-50 games,if not 38 is about right.

  17. Andre Khatchaturian August 16, 2013 at 1:00 am

    I’m sorry guys…the people who say 12th sounds about right are probably the same ones who said 2nd sounds about right last year. You just don’t know…I don’t see a Kobe, Pau, Nash led team in 12th place of a conference. That would be a disaster.

  18. Re-posted from the last thread, but going back a couple of threads ago with regards to Bucher’s HR article –

    Meg,

    Thanks for the knowledge. Although the author of the article doesn’t really present knowledgeable Laker fans with anything that we’re not aware of in regards to the dysfunction within the hierarchy of the organization, what I found, I’ll say amusing, is that Jim doesn’t cue his sister into decisions that matter: Basketball Decisions.

    ‘Jim concedes that Jeanie is not consulted on basketball decisions but denies he wields unilateral authority. He insists the Lakers are a democracy that includes GM Mitch Kupchak, to whom Jim says he often defers. “I don’t run the franchise,” he says. “We run it as a family. I’m just a figurehead. I like it collective. Now I might have to put my name on a [decision], but I can’t have the ego to make those calls alone.’

    So, basically, out of 1 side of his mouth, he states that “we run it as a family .. I like it collective.” But then, according to Bucher, out of the other side of his mouth, he “concedes that Jeanie is not consulted on basketball decisions ..” WTF? Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t she “family?”

    And trust me, I understand that, as per there father’s wishes, Jim heads the Basketball Operations and Jeanie is in charge of the Business Operations. With that being said, I firmly believe that when it comes to Sports Franchises, the Team (in this case, Basketball) and Business Operations should work hand in hand because the better the product (Team) that you put on the floor, the better the Business has at being successful. Therefore, Jeanie should be consulted in regards to the Basketball aspect of the organization.

    The top priority of the organization, before anything else, should be to get their house in order. Especially as it pertains to the ‘Summer of 14?, which, do to the latest CBA, could be a make or break summer.

  19. Hyperbole has become rampant. For all our injuries and chemistry issues last year, we still won 45 games. For some odd reason, these message boards now seem much more like talk backs on aintitcoolnews.com.
    I’m not saying blind faith is required, but to say this might be one of the worst defensive teams of ALL TIME? Like…ever?!? Really? I have no response to that. Maybe we’re just all begging for basketball to start again. I know I am, so this forum can start talking about what’s on the court rather than what we don’t see or hear behind closes doors. Lets make assumptions on one quote! Aintitcoolnews indeed.

  20. Good to see that my post was finally approved (re THR article by Bucher).

    I don’t know anyone from the Lakers organization, and my knowledge of the goings-on there are based on what I read in the newspapers and blogs and sports websites. But I concede, that based on those sources, I also get the impression that the Lakers:

    1. Don’t have a scouting team (or have so few because Jim fired everyone). ;
    2. Don’t do sabermetrics (in contrast to Houston etc. I even recall a feature in Grantland about Toronto buying those special cameras which track how players play).

    And apparently, that’s the impression, based on the THR article, that others have of the Lakers. The article used the term “institutional arrogance” and I think it’s partly true. The Lakers have been spoiled in that they always get the good players (because they pay more and have Hollywood etc) and the good coaches. So they have been winning. But now, they can’t pay more. And their core is old. And players have this new mentality of joining together so they can win titles together, and easier. So they need to adapt to these changing times.

    And the first thing to do is to at least change the impression that they’re not cutting edge.

    To this end, I was so happy when I saw a TWC feature about the Lakers scouts doing evaluations before the 2013 draft because it debunked one of the myths about the Lakers – that they don’t have a scouting staff, or have only Chaz and one of the younger Buss children.

    Props also to Lakers.com and TWC for featuring their video coordinator (who gives individual players tapes of whatever film they need). Let’s also hear more about Tim DiFrancisco, the guy in charge of nutrition, and Gary Vitti.

    They should have more of these types of stories featured by national media (not just Lakers.com or TWC) so new or upcoming players take notice (those who have no memory of Kareem, Magic and the Showtime Lakers, and think of Kobe as the old dude who’s retiring soon).

    Maybe hire some whiz kid known for sabermetrics (like the person hired by the new Celtics coach). They don’t have to take his word as gospel, but at least there’s someone there who’s looking at things in the “new” way.

  21. So disrespectful! The majority of the teams that improved in the west were already playoff teams( Golden State, Clippers, Rockets) and they made BIG moves. Everyone else either got marginally better through the draft or stayed the same. I’m not sure that Monta Ellis makes Dallas any better and Denver won’t win 54 games again. So everyone is counting on a bunch of young teams to make a strong playoff push and the only one I could see doing that is Portland. Lakers make the playoffs in the 7th or 8th spot.

  22. TRA – All six of Buss’ kids work for the Lakers. You assume that Jeannie is the only one that should be consulted on team decisions. Jesse and Joey work on the basketball operations side and Johny works on strategic direction – perhaps they are consulted and for all we know Jeannie and maybe her sister Janie are only ones that are not consulted as their roles with the team are marketing and charity and not basketball operations and personnel. Then again, maybe the other siblings are also not consulted. We simply do not know. I get your point, but I believe there isnt enough information in the article to back up your conclusion. Also, i understand your point about how the Lakers should run, but my gut tells me that Dr. Buss knew a little better about how his team should work and purposefully put his children in positions he thought would best suit their characteristics. So, unless you are saying the DR did not know what he was doing, I’m gonna wait and see how this plays out a little more.

    Robert – You know very well that Bynum was used to get Howard. You cannot then turn around and say that we lost Bynum and Howard and blame it all in Jim. We traded Bynum for Howard. We only lost Howard. If anything, trading Bynum was an intelligent risky move. Period. You are a smart guy with great knowledge and comments but your hatred of Jim sometimes gets the better of you. Also, if you argue that Jim was solely responsible for the Ruddy T hiring 9 years ago, then he must also be solely responsible for everything that happened since 2004, including getting Phil back, and getting titles in 2009 and 2010. I think its silly to say, “no, man, the good things were Dr. Buss and all the bad things were Jim.” Again, either Dr. Buss shares the blame or Jim shares in the glory. Pick one.

    Finally, an overall thing that I think many miss is the fact that Dr. Buss has been gone less than a year. This must be an incredibly difficult time for all of his children, particularly those that are reminded on a daily basis how great their father was and must struggle going forward on not only keeping their father’s legacy alive but also stepping in directly on his shoes. Not sure how many of you have lost a parent, but I can tell you that it is devastating and difficult to bounce back from. Realize that this is a family run team and they need time to adjust after the loss of its patriarch and I’m sure each of the 6 siblings has their own idea on how their father’s legacy should be honored. It may very well take 1 or 2 more seasons for the family members to move past this lose and figure out collectively how to best lead this team in a post-Dr Buss era, or it may take more.

  23. Why always see the glass half empty? Mitch did a great job this summer adding players with little salary room. The guys on short term deals have the insentive to work hard. Let`s wait a while before making judgments.

  24. the other Stephen August 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    A truly fascinating piece of basketball history: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9567471/bryan-curtis-tragic-inspirational-story-maurice-stokes. I had no idea about Kutscher’s Hotel and the Catskill mountains serving as the location for an unofficial yearly all-star/Drew/Rucker league. Perhaps some of the older posters here can share what they remember of the tournament. The fact that it lasted all the way until the early 90s is surprising.

  25. The 12th Seed Lakers

    If Kobe comes back and plays the majority of the season I agree with the 12th seed ranking. He will be half the player he was after this career ending injury. If Kobe doesn’t play much at all next season I think they are around a 14th seed.

  26. Picking us 12th is too much like picking us 10th in 2007/8.

    In 2007-8, Kobe was 29, in good health, and the rest of the team except for Fisher was young. And, of course that team made a mid-season trade a for a 27-year-old Pau, got a career year out Sasha Vujacuic,and had Phil as coach. The situations are not analogous at all.

    As to this year, Johnson may help a bit. Farmar will help if D’Antoni plays him. Young will be an asset some nights amd a negative other nights. But again, the new guys are not that young:

    Farmar and Johnson-26
    Young-28
    Kaman-31
    Harris-24
    Landry-27

    So, expecting any really big strides from them is unrealistic. Farmar and Johnson are better to have than Morris, Duhon, and Ebanks–but counterweighting that is the switch from Howard and Metta to Kaman and Young.

    As far as the argument about linearity, the team is deeper, should be well-motivated, and MDA has said that he plans to play 11 guys. Pau and Hill may play well together if they can stay on the floor. But the confusion about emotions and facts cuts the optimists’ direction as well: this team is emotionally appealing to Lakers fans–they are underdogs, they have a couple of local guys coming home, the unlikeable Howard is gone.

    But it is a team with major health concerns and the potential to be absolute disaster on defense, and has issues at the top.

  27. So, unless you are saying the DR did not know what he was doing, I’m gonna wait and see how this plays out a little more.

    Buss was a great owner, but

    a) His kids are not him
    b) Parents are often not very objective about their kids’ abilities.
    c) There are good reasons not to mix business and family.
    d) Jim Buss is neither a professional basketball lifer nor does he have an advanced degree in a field that would perhaps help with running a basketball team, either on the basketball or business sides.

    This not to say that he brings nothing to the table, But at the same time, he doesn’t have this job because he went through an interview process.

    That said, yes, there is much more to come. This part of the Lakers story is only through Chapter 1–and it has been a bad opening chapter. Part of that is on Jim Buss; part of it is not. But the fact is, however well or poorly this year’s team does, the Lakers have put all their short-range hopes on free agent recruitment. The team has very few draft picks, and Buss and Kupchak have repeatedly emphasized the importance of “financial flexibility.” Whether Keno is right about this team or ESPN is, the only reason that it will matter is in terms of how it affects this summer, and the next season and summer to come.

    So, are Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni the guys Lakers fans want recruiting FAs, along with Kupchak? Maybe, but so far they are 0-for-1 on recruiting big-time players.

  28. Meg,

    Good post. I have read several comments over the years to the effect that the Lakers make less use of analytics than any team in the NBA.

  29. 14 teams didn’t make the playoffs last year and the Lakers roster is no better than 4 or 5 of those teams.

    We’re talking about an old team with no youth or future potential, no athleticism, that can’t play a lick of defense, can’t create their own shots on offense, hasn’t had a bench in 4 years, who’s star talent is comprised of the walking wounded, and they’re playing for Coach “7 seconds or less on offense” for 82 games.

    Yes but aside from that, what did you think of the play Mrs Lincoln?

  30. MannyP: Always enjoy your posts.
    “All six of Buss’ kids work for the Lakers” You said it not me : )
    Rudy T: I said the article credited him for that and that I did not remember that. He is responsible for MD + Brown. Add Rudy T or not. So it is 0-2 or 0-3?
    Dwight/Bynum: I wanted DH more than anyone on this board. The trade to get him for Bynum was outstanding. However the effort to retain DH was horrendous. My point – nothing to show for it. I understand that it is not a double negative for Bynum and Howard, but do you agree that it is hard to say DH was a great accomplishment, when we lost him? This was the accomplishments paragraph : )
    Your comment about Jim vs Jerry and blame: Jerry was a great man. Many a great man has made mistakes with his estate. So yes – Jerry shares in the blame (that is my answer).

  31. Manny P,

    It’s clear that a major portion of the article was based on the relationship between Jim and Jeanie and how it relates to the future of the franchise. If you don’t believe so, view the picture that accompanies the article. If you don’t believe so, show me the quotes within the article from Joey, Janie, Johny and Jesse. So it’s no assumption; now you can see why I didn’t mention the other siblings.

    And you’re absolutely right, of course the great Doctor ‘knew a little better about how his team should work ..’ However, Jeanie herself stated, within the article, that she “would be more comfortable if I understood what the decision process was, and I’m not always involved in it .. To be held accountable by the league and not have a seat at the table when decisions are made is hard.” So no, I’m not saying that ‘DR did not know what he was doing ..’, but based off of her quotes, bets believe that Jeanie feels that she has the ‘characteristics’ to, at the very minimum, be “involved” in “the decision process.” That way, she can ” .. be held accountable .. when decisions are made ..”

  32. Riceman: Since nobody else has countered you yet, I guess I will need to be the board optimist : )
    “can’t create their own shots on offense”: Dude – we have the number one player of all time who can create his own shots – Kobe Bean Bryant.
    “hasn’t had a bench in 4 years”: Actually we won the title in 2010, so 4 years is off by at least 1. We had Shannon, Lamar, Farmar, and Sasha. Please do not ask me what we got for all of those guys however, because my answer will be short : )
    “they’re playing for Coach “7 seconds or less on offense” for 82 games” Well last season they actually did not play for him for 82 games, and it could be leap to say that they will this year as well : )
    As to the rest of your post – I will leave it to others to respond, because I agree.

  33. This all spins out of control with the Chris Paul trade being nixed. Yes, Stern screwed us, but Jim is not entirely without fault. If we don’t try to dump BOTH Odom and Pau’s contracts, the trade doesn’t get nixed. He underestimated the new NBA under the CBA, was greedy, and got screwed.

  34. Paul…the trade complied with the new CBA. That should have been the beginning and end of the discussion. It got nixed because of greed, but not LA’s. The “takers” like CLE didn’t think it was fair that LA made another great personnel move AND saved luxury tax. Jim Buss has made many questionable choices but that trade was genius. The Veto is a permanent stain on Stern and the league…it almost made me refuse to watch another nba game. Buss Jr had zero culpability.

  35. Who are the top 5 best Laker defenders? This is a seriously bad defensive team (and their coach has little interest in defense). Their bench is thin. Their starting five is average.

    Even if they are healthy they aren’t going to do much damage. It’s kind of depressing, actually.
    It’s going to be a long, forgettable season.

  36. CP3 deal was nixed because everyone KNEW that Dwight was headed to LA soon. Had it not been for other factors, Dwight would have stayed. Question is, what part of the recent past would change had the cp3 happened accordingly? It would be immaterial but interesting nonetheless.

    In contrast, we don’t have Cp3 and we don’t have Dwight. We have Nash instead, who got injured in the wrong place, we have Kobe hobbling and Pau limping. We have too much pride to admit that we are 12th in the West. Whether I agree w/ that assessment remains to be seen.

    When projections are made, “experts” tend to be “assuming facts” … but in reality they are also assessing teams on paper. Meaning, if they looked at the Lakers, they are accounting for Jordan Hill at 12-13 mpg, Farmar overseas and Wesley Johnson on the bench. Sorry to tell you but there is just no way that ESPN accounted for these 3 in assessing for 12th.

    Jordan Farmar is not a lockdown perimeter defender, lights out shooter or a ball wizard. But he is 26, capable, willing and motivated. Thats something you cannot discount but yet something you cannot tangibly count – esp that at this point he is slotted to be our team’s 3rd PG behind Nash and Blake.

    Jordan Hill is not a swiss knife either. He is someone who has limitations on offense and on defense… All I know is that I remember the last time he was playing for a contract (and healthy) that he had a heck of a third of a season under Mike Brown. He’s also 26, capable and motivated.

    Wesley Johnson is itching to redeem himself. He was touted as the nation’s 4th best rookie some years ago. During that time, he was regarded very highly. As the Wolves needed his skillset alot, there was simply too much wrong going on w/ the franchise at that time to showcase his skills. Again, not Dwyane Wade. He has limitations. But he’s 26, capable, willing and motivated. We’ll see.

    Nick Young is the oldest of this group. He’s 28 and unlikely to improve by leaps and bounds. But he’s also at an age where he’s either going to stay in the league for 3-4 more seasons or be gone after next year. This is 28, the start of your prime. Time to make yourself relevant because you’re hitting 30 soon. Also playing for a contract, capable when motivated (huge difference) and can make his own shot.

    I sound like a biased radio advertising our own players. I don’t work for Mitch or Jim or the Lakers… but management has been maligned so bad that its not even fair. No other GM/owner pulled off the biggest trades in the past 3 seasons than these 2. It just has not worked out and such a thing is called luck.

    As a parting shot with no particular intention, I expect these 4 guys to play alot of meaningful minutes next year.

  37. Sorry to tell you but there is just no way that ESPN accounted for these 3 in assessing for 12th.

    _________

    Nah. The ESPN results were produced by polling 215 guys from various blogs etc. including 4 from this one. I doubt that all 215 of them, collectively, know less about these players than you do.

    Wesley Johnson has played 194 NBA games and has been replacement-level–no better than a random guy from the DLeague. That said, I backed the signing and I was actually one of the first people here to mention him, but that was because I thought he would be available at the minimum–which he was, and there are reasons for that. He did do a little better late in the year, and he might be able to reach the level of playable rotation guy if he can get his 3p% to league average, but that is his ceiling. He is useful to the Lakers simply because he has decent lateral movement and he is not Devin Ebanks.

    Farmar is far better than Morris and Duhon, neither of whom will be in the NBA next year, in all likelihood. He is also better than Steve Blake, and IMO should be getting about 25-28 MPG. But Farmar has played 413 NBA games, and is probably no more than an average NBA backup PG
    –which makes him a good value at the minimum. He will help a bit, but he is certainly not a game-changer.

    And you’re right–you sound like a Lakers PR guy. The basic truth about the Lakers is that no one knows how much they will get out of Kobe, Pau, and Nash. So in that respect, it is mostly guesswork. But even so, there is very little reason to think it is likely that this team will win more than about 34-37 games. Is it possible? Sure. But the facts in evidence about these players and this coach do not strongly support that outcome.

  38. Last year, the Lakers was the best team ON PAPER…

    Now, 12th also ON PAPER…

    Those people don’t know how basketball is played…

    In 2007-2008 season, a Pau Gasol miracle trade happened. You know what?! everything is possible in this world. I’m still hopeful that they could turn things around, I’m stating that they could make the playoffs with HEALTHY players especially Kobe.

  39. If (reasonably) healthy, the Lakers will win 47 games. If injured 38. I won’t write a dissertation on the topic. Life is too short. It’s gut feel. That’s all.

  40. Mid-Wilshire,

    All I know is life is too short to continue to lambast the FO continually.

  41. Cracks…. When a team with championship expectations barely makes the playoffs, when it’s best player goes down with a devastating, often career altering, injury; when an iconic owner passes away, when the hoped for “next franchise player” chooses another franchise- all these show cracks in a team that has dominated the league for decades. This domination breeds resentment, it breeds jealousy, and it breeds fear. Those teams that are competing with the Lakers would love to see them dragged down by the wolves.

    Listening to some NBA podcast one notable observation from Summer League was how widespread the schadenfreude was over the Lakers losing out on Howard. There are agendas out there.

    We can all look at the many sports and business prognostications over the years. Look how everyone is waiting for Apple to fall off after the passing of their leader. Pay attention to how the Yankees are viewed when their owner died, how Man United is viewed when some foreigners bought them, how any dominant team is viewed over the course of their longer than average ups. Then look at how they are viewed during their shorter than average downs.

    It is possible that the Lakers will fall into the pack but I think this period of turmoil is a chance for the current leaders to figure out how to best run the team. You think Tomjonavic, Brown and MD’A are the first mistakes made in selecting coaches? Del Harris, Randy Pfund and Mike Dunleavy are available for talking to you about that.

    Jeanie thinks her dad would have convinced Howard to stay? I happen to know that over Christmas, Howard was filming a commercial, and the actors all saw him jumping from out of the rafters with no limits. Dwight was dogging Pau and Kobe the whole time and was so completely unaware of reality that he didn’t realize that all those athlete/actors know Kobe and Pau, that most are Lakers fans, and that he had given those Lakers fans no reason to find his cornball humor more endearing than the respect that Pau and Kobe have earned. He is an idiot. Steve Nash called the man out. So, lets just say, I’m not so sure that Dr. Buss would have been particularly successful in convincing Dwight to pour his heart into the Purple and Gold.

    This is a time of transition. Dr. Buss knew this when he set up the team and chose it’s leadership structure. This is a time of upheaval and management knew this when it traded for CP3 and set up the pay structure to clear the books for next off-season. Maybe the Lakers are blowing it as regards analytics, training and therapy. All I know is that until last season, the Lakers were right there, with the rest of the league, in terms of games lost to injury, and this with an older team. San Antonio is considered a great organization and I seem to have seen a decline in the health of both Tony Parker and Manu Ginoblli. How about Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade? Those two have had injury issues over the last couple of seasons.

    So, lets take the comments by opposing coaching, perhaps jilted free-agents, and other competitors in stride. Personally, I’m less concerned about all those issues listed in the Hollywood Reporter, than I am in what I’m hearing coming from Mike D’Antoni’s plans for his big men.

    BTW, Denver is going to be worse then the Lakers. There is still a chance that PDX will need to move Aldridge. Dallas has made some good moves, but I’m not sure it’s going to work for them. We lost Howard but all those things listed above by Darius are real possibilities.

    If Nick Young can have a Caron Butler like internship under Kobe, if Wes Johnson has adjusted to the league and if we don’t lose too much time to injuries, then I think this team will be fun to watch and competitive. It’s about chemistry and health. Lets see if it comes together.

  42. Both hate and love really alter the ability to be objective.

    There is such hate – and I use the word with full consideration for what it means – for both Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni that I doubt many on this site can see beyond their emotions. Who knows, they may be right, but the odds are these two Lakers understand the situation and have tools and techniques to address our situation they are not being given credit for.

    I, personally, think this will be an interesting year; a year of development and some excitement; a year with some redemption. I don’t expect a championship, but I do expect many of our opinions will be greatly altered about several players on our roster. I do expect us to play hard. I do not expect several of our bloggers to come off their hatred of Jim or Mike.

    All that said — it should be an interesting and different year for all of us.

  43. Don’t come to this site and be a condescending jerk in the comments. If you do that, your comments will be deleted. You know who you are.

  44. There is such hate – and I use the word with full consideration for what it means – for both Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni that I doubt many on this site can see beyond their emotions

    Perhaps. But this analysis applies to you as much as anyone, since you hate–and I do mean hate–criticism of Lakers officials enough that you talk about it literally every day. This, and your rejection of advanced stats, seriously interfere with your ability to be objective about the team.

    And, again, as noted, the posts that are optimistic about the team generally revolve around terms such as chemistry, motivation etc. I have actually provided more specific reasons to have hope about this year’s team than many of the 45-48 win crowd has.

    But, ultimately, if Kobe, Pau and Nash can stay on the floor and play pretty well, the Lakers will be competitive. If they can’t, they won’t. The real question is what is better for the team long-term:

    Winning about 25 games, getting a higher pick, and firing MDA?
    Winning about 43 games, with MDA getting some CoTY votes?

    One reason that analysts are so down on the Lakers is that they think the moves the Lakers made will lead to about 32-35 wins, the worst of both worlds, so to speak.

    As to Buss and D’Antoni, the question there is how well they do recruiting FAs in July 2014 and July 2015. But that process starts with this year’s team, how it is run, and how it is perceived.

  45. P Ami: “You think Tomjonavic, Brown and MD’A are the first mistakes made in selecting coaches? Del Harris, Randy Pfund and Mike Dunleavy are available for talking to you about that.” I have mentioned Del Harris many times : ) In fact if MD hangs on for a few years he has the Del Harris potential of being one of the few guys in franchise history to coach for several years and never make the finals. Pfund was just wrong place wrong time. Dunleavy – Gonna disagree on that one. Took us to the finals and lost only due to injury. Then had The Announcement. Not sure where the beef is with that version of MD : )
    Craig W: I for one do not hate either guy. Jim Buss is the rich kid who inherited tons of money. Problem is that he inherited my Lakers and he is not qualified – so that is my beef. Yes – they are My Lakers ! Many if us feel this way. As for as D’Antoni. He is a flat head screwdriver and we have a Phillips head team. I said that from Day 1 and thus far have been correct.
    rr: Your forecast range is spot on. I also see the “how we are run” thing as almost a no win at this point. If we want to win towards the upper range of your forecast, the formula will be simple. Get KB healthy (easier said than done), and then let him take over. He is more willing to do the latter, but how will this be for his longer term health, and how is that going to appear for team perception, that we have reverted to 2006 with an older Kobe. In any case – if the initial recovery goes well – I should be busy with the Kobe Alert. No matter what happens – He Rules !

  46. Looks as if Larry Sanders is re-upping with Milwaukee for 4/44. He was a going to be a RFA that I thought the Lakers should target for an overpay.

  47. I did some research (what can I say – I have a lot of time on my hands – and there is no rock concert tonight). Amazing stat: There have only been three coaches in Laker history to have coached the “majority” of 2 or more seasons and not ever made the Finals. They are Jerry West, Del Harris, and Randy Pfund. Please see rr’s post to determine who #4 on this list will be.

  48. Dunleavy – Gonna disagree on that one. Took us to the finals and lost only due to injury.

    I think you may be mixing up the 1989 Finals with the 1991 Finals. Dunleavy did do fine as coach.

    I actually don’t think having Kobe trying to turn back the clock is the best call for this team, in terms of winning as many as possible. Playing 10 guys with Kobe, Pau and Nash playing 28-34 MPG is the way that I think they should go. MDA has mentioned playing 11 guys, when asked, so we will see if he goes away from his long-standing practice of running short rotations.

  49. rr: Not mixing up. 1989 and 1991 were both injury related. 1991 we won Game 1 on a 3 pointer by Perkins on their home court. Worthy gutted that game out, but had nothing the rest of the series (he hurt it against Portland). Then Scott went down as well. Yes easy to get confused with 89 as it is a similar tale. I told you – I am older than I look. And way older than I act : )

  50. You need to check the box scores at Bask Ref, buddy. Scott and Worthy played 31 and 34 minutes, respectively, in Game 4, and played 91 minutes between them in Game 3. Worthy went all 48 in Game 3. They did miss Game 5, but the series was over at that point. In that series, the Lakers were dealing with a 28-year-old Jordan, a 26-year-old Pippen, and a coach that I think you know.

  51. rr: Need someone else to weigh in here who saw the series. Worthy was done after Game 1. In any case – I am not sure the point: as you said “Dunleavy did do fine as coach. ” So what is the disagreement here? That is what I originally said. As to the 1991 Finals. We were injured and yet I will admit it is debatable whether we would have won anyway, but I am a Laker fan – so what can I say. You do have a good point though. We were going up against the greatest coach of all time. Who has been a perfect match (and I mean perfect) for 11 out of his 20 rosters. I would go ahead and gamble on lucky 21 but that is just me, because I am a gambler ! Horses must be different.

  52. Hopefully, the following article will squelch, once and for all, the “We want Phil” chants including those we occasionaly hear / read on this web site:
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/08/17/phil-jackson-reiterates-he-has-no-intention-of-coaching/?ocid=Yahoo&partner=ya5nbcs

    It’s written by Brett Pollakoff, a respected sports analyst and is entitled, “Phil Jackson reiterates he has no Intention of Coaching.” He sites health as the reason for not being up to the coaching grind: “I have no intention of coaching,” he said. “I am still recovering from multiple surgeries.”

  53. Mid-Wilshire: One thing the anti-Phil camp has correct is that he only wants to coach championship caliber rosters. Hence he wanted to coach us last year (perhaps he was fooled like the rest of us). In any case he certainly does not want to coach us this year – of that you can be certain. Let me know however whose name does it for you. We want _______ ?

  54. The Lakers will be better then expected. MDA gets a rep as a no defense coach. Simply not true. His teams rate very average defensively but the opposition gets more attempts to shoot the ball because of how quickly MDA teams shoot the ball on offense.

    MDA teams seem to do very well in the regular season then fizzle as rotations shorten in the post season. His system also tends to produce gaudy numbers on offense from very average NBA players who can hit open 3s. So this would likely lead to the Lakers getting a decent record durring the regular season.

    My only concern is that the Lakers have not addressed getting players that will necessarily fit what MDA is trying to run. I argued about this many times before even suggesting to trade for lesser talent that fitted what MDA is coachinginstead of holding tightly to guys who dont have a clearly defined role. I think the Lakers should be trying to acquire a stretch PF by trade and a true SF by free agency. I’m a little less concerned about the SF situation as I see Kobe likely sliding over to there as the Lakers signed 2 SG’s this offseason with the intention of playing them at SF. I think they will likely fill on at SG with bench time minutes at SF.

  55. Robert,

    The disagreement was with the idea that the Lakers lost that series due to injuries. Byron Scott wasn’t doing much anyway–in Game 3, he played 43 minutes and was 0/8 from the floor (three guesses who was guarding him). Worthy played 48 minutes and went 9/16 from the floor in Game 3. I don’t disagree about Dunleavy.

  56. His teams rate very average defensively but the opposition gets more attempts to shoot the ball because of how quickly MDA teams shoot the ball on offense.

    This has been true of some MDA teams, but last year’s Lakers team was 20th in D. And, as noted many times, the Lakers were far worse last year with Howard off the floor and were also worse with Metta off the floor.

  57. Robert,
    As I wrote earlier… You’re what your paper roster says you’re. Phil Jackson said he didn’t think last years roster was good enough to win a championship. That’s why he didn’t say yes to Mitch and Jim. He said he wanted to think about it because he thought he owed it to the Buss family, Kobe, and Pau. But as he and Rambis both have said… Phil most likley was not going to accept the offer. He didn’t think the roster was good enough (and he was right).

  58. Game 3 in 91 was an OT game, so Worthy did not play the whole game.

  59. Rather than get pedantic about who played minutes etc… I was there to watch the ’91 finals, as well as the ’89 finals. Worthy was already declining due to injury but once Pippin was switched to Magic it became the Bull’s series to lose. Worthy wasn’t Finals MVP Worthy but, as we say, if you lace them up, you are fine to play. The point with Dunleavy is, once he was away from the on court coaching of Magic Johnson, and the roster development of Jerry West, we saw the real Dunleavy. He was a failure both in Milwaukee, coached one of the biggest choke jobs in Portland, and then made one dumb coaching decision after another as coach of the Clippers. So, I still stand on Dunleavy being a very flawed coach on par with MD’A and Mike Brown. Dr. Buss made his own poor decisions when it comes to coaching hires.

  60. Rather than get pedantic about who played minutes etc… I was there to watch the ’91 finals, as well as the ’89 finals.

    Me too. The Bulls were better than the Lakers. And I don’t see providing basic facts as getting pedantic. As I have said a few times, the I-was-there argument carries some weight. OTOH, those games were 22 years ago, so a quick look at Bask Ref is probably in order when we are talking about events that far in the rearview.

  61. Randy Pfund (Lakers will be Pfund, this year!)

  62. i’m tired of hearing all-knowing people telling about how the game has changed so much. lot’s of good stuff poseted by the WiltChaimberlinArchive, here are 1960’s dunks, done in regular old shoes, too..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4seN0mugh1k&list=UUFfDF7oCw7sVL7PzEg57E4g

    if you watch all 83 videos in that series, you’ll see that the only difference between then and now, is that players used to know how to run a complete offense and they didn’t flop and all shots were two points and they ran hard. take notice of Jerry West elbowing Oscar Robertson in the mouth and no one looking for a foul…

  63. P. Ami: We are 95% in agreement. There is Phil and Pat at the top. There is Del, Mike B, and D’Antoni at the bottom. rr and I have a middle ground for Mike Dunleavey. If you want him at the bottom of the list group – that is OK – because in any case, he is miles away from the top 2. Further, I am never one to stand in the way of coaching criticism. I even used to yell at Phil and I actually got him to look at me once. With regard to Dr Buss – yes – a few bad decisions and many great ones.
    Aaron: The question is – will our roster be good enough for Phil in 14-15? In other words – is the dream still alive?

  64. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWVi0EtJcZg&list=UUFfDF7oCw7sVL7PzEg57E4g

    more WCA, 1964-65 Lakers highlights as described by Head Coach Schaus…

  65. The Phil Looking at Me Story: It was a 2011 home game against the Kings. The game ended up being a coming out party for D Cousins. He completely lit us up early, in spite of the fact that Kobe got 21 points (I was going nuts as you can imagine) in the first quarter and moved by Hakeem for 8th place on the all time list. Cousins was hitting everything, during a time out, I said – Hey Phil – you got anyone on that bench who can cover Cousins? I am a loud guy – as you probably guessed and I was in the second row right behind Phil (VIP B as it is called). He looked at me quickly but sternly. I melted of course : )

  66. There is an excellent, extended interview with Jordan Hill published by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/37069/jordan-hills-summer-assignment-become-a-stretch-4

    In that article, Jordan Hill talks about his preparation during the summer for next season, his thoughts on what specifically went wrong with the Laker’s defense, particularly re: the P&R,, and what it takes to prolong one’s longevity in an NBA career. It’s a candid, insightful, in-depth interview. Must reading for Lakers fans.

  67. Mud,

    That was a great video. I love seeing the old school legends in real game action. Still the game has changed. I think players of that era were more well rounded individually. Everyone could pass, shoot, and rebound. Today’s game has more specialization. That doesn’t make it better or worse. Just different.

    And the only reason today’s players look for whistles is because the refs have conditioned them to. NBA officials screwed up the game back in the early 90’s when they allowed WWF style wrestling to be passed off as defense. The game quickly got slow and ugly. So a decade later they changed a bunch of rules and started blowing whistles like crazy in an attempt to clean up the game. Had they maintained the integrity of the rules back in the 90’s they wouldn’t need to be whistle happy today. They players just follow their lead.

  68. The Hill article has already been linked, I think, but it is worth seeing again. Here is an excerpt:

    “We got Pau Gasol that can focus on the paint and we got Chris Kaman that can focus on the block. So I just want to be a stretch 4. Just try to spread the floor a little bit, just show a little range. I’ve been working on it the whole summer, trying to focus on that, on my 3-ball. It got a lot better. I’m just ready to put it all together and showcase it.”

    Hill, who shot 61.8 percent inside of 5 feet last season en route to a career-high 6.7 points per game average, did not fare as well the farther away from the basket he went. According to NBA.com Stats Cube, Hill shot 35.7 percent from 5-9 feet last season and 30.8 percent from 15-19 feet. And he missed the only two 3-point shots he attempted (in fact, he’s 0-for-9 on 3s for his career). However, there was signs of promise. He shot 50 percent from 10-14 feet and 42.9 percent from 20-24 feet, but the opportunities were limited (fewer than 10 attempts during the season from each of those spots).
    ___

  69. That was my whole point regarding Dr. Buss. He made his share of mistakes. He was human. As you pointed out, he made far more good decisions and had the further luck of having them generally work to his great advantage. I can’t quite get behind Jim Buss as a failure. They have made the right moves as regards CP3 and Howard. Didn’t quite work out.

    I am so totally in disagreement about the old game that I can’t quite get a handle on how anyone thinks those players were more well rounded. I just watched the ’64 finals. In other words, the two best teams in the game were going at it (with one team being the most dominant team in the history of the NBA and the other lead by one of the greatest players in the game) and it looked like a rec-league game. Spacing was abysmal, movement off the ball was plodding. The Celtics played some full court press but most of the game the defenders gave so much space you could plant a rose and watch it grow to full bloom before the defender would make up the space. The dribbling was loose. Passing was mostly obvious. Players played defense standing upright. It was a far less skilled and less athletic game than what we watch today. Obviously Wilt was an athlete with skill. Havlicek was really nice coming off the bench. Russell was on another planet in terms of his motor, his nose for the ball, his athleticism and his ability to read players on defense. He looked out of place. No wonder his teams won so much. Just remember, one of the best players of the era could not dribble with his left hand. Think about the weakness of defences when they did not have the ability to just shut down Jerry West. The guy used to move to his left while dribbling with his right. He was a great player. All respect due to him but reflect on what that says about the competitive environment he played in. Jerry West talks about trying to develop a left hand dribble and it never worked. I have little doubt that he would have learned it with today’s techniques. I’m just saying, teams of his era did not stop him. The same guy playing today would get forced into and then stuck to the right side of the court.

    I’m not a young guy. I grew up in the 80’s. I still have a hard time thinking that Jordan was better than Magic or Bird. I grew to truly love the game in the 90’s. So I’m not coming from a bias of what I saw when young was the best, or that today is the best. I do have some idea about how the game is played and what skills are required to be a good basketball player. The skill today is phenomenal. We don’t have enough skilled 7 footers but other than that, we are living in a golden age of basketball.