Week At A Glance

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 13, 2014

Nothing has gone right for the Lakers in the last 11 games. They’ve only won one game during that span and most of the losses have been ugly…and that’s putting it lightly. The team hasn’t lost 10 of 11 since 2005 — the last year they missed the playoffs.

Seven of the ten losses have been by margins greater than 10 points. Their latest loss was a 36-point drubbing from the Clippers. At one point in that game, the Lakers trailed by 43.

It doesn’t matter whether Laker fans are on board with tanking or not — the fact remains that the team rarely goes on slumps like these historically. Times are, of course, different these days. The team lacks confidence and has been marred with injuries all season long. In fact, only four Lakers have played in all 11 games during this horrid slump — Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, Nick Young, and Ryan Kelly.

It’s hard to find any bright spots because everybody is playing poorly — especially on defense. Over the last 11 games, there isn’t a single Laker who has a defensive rating below 100. Pau Gasol, who has been pretty solid offensively during the slump, has the worst defensive efficiency at 115.2.

Pardon me while I go vomit.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. The silver lining throughout this slump has been the play of Kendall Marshall. Let’s rephrase that — the offensively play of Kendall Marshall. As awful as the Lakers have defended under Mike D’Antoni, he’s incredible in elevating the game of point guards. Marshall has thrived under D’Antoni’s system — averaging 0.92 points per play as the P&R Ball Handler. The team averages 0.7 points per play in P&R Ball Handler situations this year so it’s clear that Marshall has improved the P&R for the Lakers.

That’s where the good news ends, though. Even the proponents of Operation: Tank can’t be happy because the Lakers still aren’t bad enough. Along with the Kings and Jazz, there are still five Eastern Conference teams that have a worse record than the Lakers. This means that the probability that the Lakers land a top three pick are still pretty low.

It’s hard to imagine that the Lakers will continue their free fall. Kobe Bryant and Steve Blake should be back eventually – though it may be wise for the Lakers to begin considering perhaps shutting down Kobe for the rest of the season. That said, knowing Kobe’s competitiveness that probably won’t happen.

Until his return, the Lakers are in for a tough test. They begin their annual Grammy Road Trip this week when they head to Phoenix on Wednesday to start a string of seven games away from Staples Center. The road trip will begin after a home tilt against Cleveland tomorrow. They will also play against the Celtics at the Garden in one of the most storied rivalries in sports – a rivalry that can now be considered dormant because of the two teams’ performances this season.

Even in the Lakers’ best years, the Grammy Road Trip has given them fits. They went 6-0 in 2009 during their championship run, but aside from that year, they’re just 33-31 in the last 10 years (excluding 2009).

Screen Shot 2014 01 13 at 2.47.44 PM

Again, these were competitive Laker teams that made the playoffs essentially every year. This year’s Lakers will most likely struggle big time during the grueling trip which features a match against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in South Beach.

Andre Khatchaturian

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43 responses to Week At A Glance

  1. “Even the proponents of Operation: Tank can’t be happy because the Lakers still aren’t bad enough. Along with the Kings and Jazz, there are still five Eastern Conference teams that have a worse record than the Lakers. This means that the probability that the Lakers land a top three pick are still pretty low.”

    Lol, well depending on what side of the fence you’re on (to tank or not to tank”, this week Stein’s Power rating has the Lakers at 27th and very soon the Lakers will play 10 of 12 on the road. Lakers will have played about 50 games by the end of the trip and the “Old Boy’s Club” of Kobe & Nash will have seen some court time.

    We’ll have a better picture by then.

  2. 2008, 9 game road trip? My lord… I remember a lot of talk during that trip about bringing the team together and what it has meant to successful Lakers teams in the past. But dang…. Nine games is a brutal trip. That is over 10% of the regular season. It seemed to have done the trick as we went to the finals 3 years in a row after that.

  3. The Lakers are the worst team in the NBA right now, but getting the guards back will obviously make them more competitive.

  4. rr- Even worse than Milwaukee?

  5. I cant even stomach watching the games anymore. I dont want to see D’antonis stupid offensive system where three pointers are a “good shots”. There is no defensive cohesiveness and no repercussions when a player does not rotate or even play defense. Have we received a flagrant foul this year? these guys are happy to get dunked on, if it was me, i would at least foul the guy hard so he thinks twice about coming in again.

  6. rr- Even worse than Milwaukee?

    Well, Milwaukee beat them by 15 here a couple of weeks ago.

    By “right now” I mean this second–today–when they are dressing nine guys and are playing a PG who is a borderline NBA player, with no backup. They have lost 10 of 11, and the last five losses have all been by 13 points or more. They lost at home to Philly; Sacto has caught them in the standings and has a recent win over Miami, plus a 44-point win in their last game. The Lakers did beat Utah here, but Utah’s roster as of today is better than the Lakers’ is. Boston has lost eight straight and Orlando is 10-27. The Lakers play both of those teams on this trip.

    When everybody is available, I think they are a 35-win team, as I said in preseason. And they may actually be a .500 team when everybody can play. But it is worth recalling that one reason that so many people were so down on the Lakers’ chances in preseason is that those people doubted that Kobe, Pau and Nash would be able to stay on the floor/be healthy most of the time.

  7. “When everybody is available, I think they are a 35-win team, as i said in preseason. And they may actually be a .500 team when everybody can play.”

    As a proponent of tanking this season, this is my biggest fear right now. Lakers get kobe, farmar and blake back and they play good enough to get the 9th seed or even sneak into the playoffs. Then what? They will get swept by Spurs or OKC. Call me a loser or not a true fan, but I can’t see the benefit of winning right now. Lakers must lose as many games as possible starting with tomorrows Cavalier game.

  8. Forgive me, but what’s the point of even coming here to post that you want the Lakers to lose? If you feel that way, why spend time on a Lakers blog rather than merely setting your alarm for next season and concentrating on other matters?

    I’m not trying to be rude, but I come here primarily for analysis (Darius’ last post about pace is a perfect example) and secondarily, to be part of a community united by their love for my favorite sports team. It’s frankly unpleasant to read comments hoping the Lakers lose and lose and lose. Did I make a wrong turn somewhere and end up on CelticsBlog? What if someone offered you a pair of tickets? Would you go to the game and root for the other team? If you wouldn’t, then why intimate that you would in these pages?

    Don’t get me wrong: I understand the thinking strategically , but I can’t stomach it aesthetically or emotionally. I’m going to the Cavs game tomorrow– the fans here are smarter than the average fans at Staples, but I look forward to sharing the P&G passion with those proud to shell out money and brave traffic to support the Lakers, no matter who is playing or what our place in the standings might be.

  9. Bryan from last thread:

    You are relying on Lance’s age to become a perennial all-star, assuming he would blow up on a less-talented team like ours and relies on him more. Remember Earl Clark last season during his good run? He was a player that we regarded as “at the bottom of the totem pole” and thus naturally teams would allow him to break out every game rather than get killed by Kobe or Dwight – the Laker givens. If you wanted to explore and buy low on potential, 13 million is no way to do it.

    His free agent status being unrestricted also just kills the 13 million dollar idea for me even more. You do not overpay for someone who is not a guaranteed star. Now, a case is to be made for Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe and Gordon Hayward… these youngsters are coming off their rookie contracts, want to be paid big, but also deservedly so in some regard based on actual play and production and not purely on potential. These guys are borderline all-stars on their 3rd and 4th seasons, that’s where you bet your big bucks on.

    There is a good chance that the Lakers do not go the Carmelo way. As many here point out, he is headed on the wrong side of 30 and a ballhog like Kobe. You could argue that the Lakers would need 3 balls to satisfy all these guys, one for Kobe, one for Melo and one for the rest. Even though I believe the Kobe/Melo combo is one to fear around the league, given their ages, I can understand if we went the RFA way and tried to steal one or two of those 3 youngsters I mentioned.

    Due to uncertainties and limitations in small market teams, they are vulnerable to retaining their players because they want to be below the tax line almost all the time. This is the work of economics and this is what they cannot address without the TV deals that the Lakers sign with TWC. The same reason, even if paid the same, would Lance take Indiana’s 6 million over LA’s 7 million? Tax and cost of living aside, his role in Indy will be limited compared to his possible role in LA.

    I also noticed some inconsistencies. Pau Gasol cannot just be traded anywhere without a corresponding butterfly and domino effect. Such a deal will greatly impact what the Lakers would be doing forward, if at all it happens.

  10. Bucks: They also beat us last year with D12, KB, Nash, and Pau all playing. They have won 4 of the last 5 against us.
    Grammy Trip: Yes – could be opportunity for bonding. I notice that Andre removes the 2009 year to look at this. I would do it differently. I would remove 2005, 2012, and 2013. The remaining record would be 31-21. That’s 600 ball all on long road trips : )
    Tanking: The key is to not be put in a position where you need to do it. Once you are in that position – the options are vey limited.

  11. .. but I can’t see the benefit of winning right now.

    Gary, I’m pretty sure that there’s a huge proportion of Lakers’ fans who feel just as you do. Plenty just refuse to admit it. Therefore, IMO, it’s not about being a “loser” or “not a true fan.” It’s about being a realist. And now, with what looks like the return of Kobe, SB and Farmar on the horizon (I refuse to count Nash, who, in my opinion, is finished due to old age), the situation will only get worse because there arrival (along with the possibility of subsequent victories) will only help to diminish the overall rebuilding of the franchise.

    And for the record – and as I stated right after it was announced that he suffered a fracture within his knee – I am still of the belief that Kobe should just shut it down for the rest of the season. Reason being is that, as it currently stands and with the clear understanding that injuries can occur at any time, his value to the organization over the final 2 years (?) of his contract is much more paramount to his value to the franchise over these next 3 months.

  12. Gary,
    I don’t think you have to worry. After this road trip, without additional players coming back, there is simply no way to make the playoffs in the West. If you were arguing the 6th pick or the 13th pick, I could see your reasoning, but making the playoffs??? No….

    P.S. Kobe ain’t shuttin’ it down unless the doctor says so. We should just stop this crazy thought process.

  13. Gary,

    I brought that up the other day. I could see Kobe, Farmar and Blake playing the team to about 34-48, which would

    a) mean they pick 11th or 12th instead of 6th or 7th, if they don’t ping-pong into the top 3
    and
    b) make it far less likely that they ping-pong into the top 3

  14. Kobe: Tend to agree that Kobe will be Kobe and he will want to play and therefore will play. That said – I understand the argument for shutting Kobe down for the year. However, as I have told rr, it is a slippery slope. The arguments you make for this year will apply next year as well. We don’t have a chance to contend (same will be true next year). We can tank and get a higher pick (our 2015 first rounder is top 5 protected, so if we tank again we could have 2 straight high picks). Personally – I want KB to come back as soon as possible. However, for those arguing to shut it down, with medical clearance (real clearance) it is hard to make a case for shutting it down this year, that could not immediately be remade next year.
    Tanking: While I personally hate tanking, as Aaron and I discussed yesterday, those in the Tank Commando unit should consider the long term tank. We could delay sending our pick to Phoenix all the way until 2018 and we could avoid ever sending a first rounder to Orlando. Now that would be how to win via tanks and trench warfare (for those so inclined).

  15. Craig W. Yes I am referring to the fact that Lakers will play much better if their injured players came back, which means the Lakers will win games that they shouldn’t. Thus they end up with the 13th pick instead of 6th.

    Due to the unique way that lottery picks are given, Lakers have a opportunity to get a top 3 pick. It would be like when Chicago leapfrogged from the 9th pick to the 1st pick. Getting a 6th pick instead of a 13th will increase the chances that happens to Lakers. Not to mention, with the 6th pick, the Lakers can still draft Julius randle, dante exum or marcus smart. That is why I advocate losing as many games as possible.

  16. but I can’t see the benefit of winning right now.

    There really isn’t one, particularly since no one except Kobe, Sacre, and Nash is under contract for next year. With a team like Utah, trying to develop a young core, there is some benefit to playing competitive ball. That is not really the case with the Lakers. If they were trying to get LeBron, you could argue that they would want to look decent. If the team had a shot at the playoffs, you could argue for going for the playoffs, no matter what. As it is…we are probably talking about the difference between finishing 20th overall vs. 25th or even worse.

    That is not to say that I don’t understand the psychological aversion to hoping the team loses.

  17. Lil pau….dont read it…

  18. it is a slippery slope

    Well, if next year’s team is as bad as this year’s team and Kobe goes down with another serious injury, and there are big-time prospects, then sure. I don’t see the issue.

    And of course if those things happen, then more people will be calling for MDA’s head and a lot of people will be wanting Kobe to retire.

  19. Pau has a strained toe. That should be 9 games rest. As in length of road trip!

  20. Marquee matchup coming up with 2 teams that lost their last games by 80 points combined.im so hyped.

  21. What if we lose games???

    I guess I don’t see the logic of discussing actually trying to lose games. If we were talking about how many games the Lakers COULD win from now on, I would understand. The players are not going to try to lose; the coaches are not going to try to lose; the injured players will return and they will not try to lose.

    Any concept of ‘tanking’ is already built into the roster. How many games that roster will be able to win is our discussion. Stop even bringing up the name – ‘tanking’ – it is simply insulting and serves no purpose.

  22. lil pau – I’m with you all the way on this one. I too come here to read the analysis and also the comments. Many people here have a lot of basketball knowledge and are also Lakers fans.
    I’m so sick of reading about t**king; it’s a topic that is just sucking the energy out of all the good Lakers blogs.
    gene – you’re right, we don’t have to read it but since that is the majority of the comments, it makes for pretty slim pickings as you scroll down the comment section.
    A cautionary note: be careful what you wish for. Check out the history of the Dolphins and ‘Skins in the NFL (Daniel Snyder era) and especially my beloved Canadiens in the NHL. Don’t be so foolish as to presume it can’t happen to the Lakers because, after all, we are the Lakers.

  23. @Lil Pau-Thank you!!!!
    ________________________________________________
    @Jesse-A cautionary note: be careful what you wish for.

    To quote Fonzie: “Exactamundo!”

  24. “Forgive me, but what’s the point of even coming here to post that you want the Lakers to lose? If you feel that way, why spend time on a Lakers blog rather than merely setting your alarm for next season and concentrating on other matters?

    I’m not trying to be rude, but I come here primarily for analysis (Darius’ last post about pace is a perfect example) and secondarily, to be part of a community united by their love for my favorite sports team. It’s frankly unpleasant to read comments hoping the Lakers lose and lose and lose. Did I make a wrong turn somewhere and end up on CelticsBlog? What if someone offered you a pair of tickets? Would you go to the game and root for the other team? If you wouldn’t, then why intimate that you would in these pages?”

    I posted about tanking because of people who think like you. Just like you hate the idea of tanking and don’t even want to read about it, I have a similar hatred of the fact that some Lakers fans don’t even want to discuss it as if talking about it will kill them. I just wanted to spark a discussion about what is the big deal about tanking. Apparently some people can’t take the sight of it. So forgive me I won’t post about tanking anymore unless other people want to.

  25. Stop even bringing up the name – ‘tanking’ – it is simply insulting and serves no purpose.

    The fact is that whatever you want to call it, or not call it, there is a good argument to be made that the long-term interests of the org. would be best served by moving Kaman, Hill (and Blake and Meeks if anyone will take them) for whatever, and having Kobe sit out the rest of the year. Those decisions would almost certainly

    a) Lead to more losses in 2014
    but might
    b) Lead to more wins for the team and better health for Kobe, both in 2015 and beyond.

    There is pretty wide consensus that Boston is probably going to move Rondo as soon as he proves that he can play again. That probably guarantees more losses for them in 2014, but Ainge thinks that it will help them be good again in the future and is in the best long-term interests of the organization. Given that Rondo is 28, Ainge may be wrong, of course. But then again he may not be. In any case, given the guys the Lakers have–including Kobe–the calculus is different.

    So, if the principles involved in trying to go 31-51 instead of 25-57 are a big deal to some fans, I understand that. You are supposed to play to win. But the be careful what you wish for meme works both ways. If the Lakers miss out on drafting an All-Star for a few extra non-playoff-relevant wins this year, that may hurt the franchise for years to come.

    That said, I am 99.9% certain that Kobe will play again when he is cleared, and so will everybody else. The Lakers made this decision in some respects when they gave him the extension.

    As to the people who don’t like the discussion, I would suggest talking about something else. But it is unrealistic to expect many fans to be really interested in tomorrow’s Cleveland/Lakers tilt for its own sake. If you are, power to you. But many aren’t.

  26. all: to put it another way, the lakers should try to win every game they’re going to lose. that way, everybody’s happy??

    four days since the last beat down, who we playing tonite? oh yeah, the cavaliers.

    Go lakers

  27. rr,
    lil pau´s post on tanking expressed my (& others´) exact feelings on the matter
    (enjoy the game tonight lil pau!! hope you´ll be chiming in again from Staples!),
    which makes your post (last night at 11:23pm) even more superb. It is the perfect counterpoint, imbued with a confederate {as in supporter} sensibility, to lil pau´s emotionally rooted (in a positive sense) stand.
    In short, awesome post dude :)
    _____
    all: to put it another way, the lakers should try to win every game they’re going to lose. that way, everybody’s happy??
    __
    LOL !!

  28. Tanking? Now if a team really really wanted to tank and wasn’t ashamed of it why hire basketball players to play for you? Hire 12 frat guys who all throw passes behind the back, toss it up from deep three point land and high five each other if they hit the back board. Or hire swim suit models. Kobe could then make brief cameo appearances in true hollywood fashion.

    I understand the desire to get a good draft pick but if teams truly unquestionably started really tanking the game would quickly become a mockery. Go Lakers! ;)

  29. To speak about something else : )
    We better win tonight’s game. We have lost 4 in a row and 10 out of 11. After tonight we go on a 7 game trip and then are welcomed home with Indiana.
    We are third in pace and Cleveland is 18th. So even with our skeleton crew, is the strategy to run the Cavs out of the gym?
    And perhaps if we don’t want to change the overall strategy, then we can just get down to basics. The Lakers are last in the league in turnover differential. We are also tied for 29th in Rebounding differential. Does talent impact these? Of course. But it is fundamentals, and if you are last in the league it is a problem that should be addressed.
    So if we want to talk about what we need to do to win the game or coming games (I would like to), feel free to provide some comments, but if the response is that we have no talent, then that leads the conversation back to the draft, which of course then leads to – What was that word again? : )

  30. Robert: let’s just call It fankertery: faking a win to get into the lottery.

    to get a glimpse tonite into what could have been:

    Go Lakers vs them mike brown cavaliers

  31. I understand people who pay money to watch the team want to watch full effort. I personally think the Lakers should give their full effort. I also believe, Kobe or not, this team’s full effort will not get us anywhere near the 9th seed in the west. Kobe is not going to be a good defender any time soon. The Lakers will not be getting important stops any time soon. I for one, want to see Kobe do his thing. I want to see the team try and figure things out and work on their mental toughness. The last thing we should ask for is a lack of effort. The second to last thing we should ask for is less Kobe. He won’t be around much longer. Enjoy it.

    So many things can change between now and the lottery, let alone the draft. We don’t know who is declaring for the draft yet. We don’t know who is developing their game in a manner that will transmit to the NBA better than others. When the college season started, Wiggins was a consensus, next LBJ type kid. Now, we are all drooling over his teammate, the next Olajuwon. Who knows what is going to happen.

    Just remember, the Celtics have tanked twice in the last 20 years. Once for Durant and once for Duncan. Didn’t work. I’m not saying the basketball gods got mad. I’m just saying, play to your potential, as there are still players on the team that need to learn how to play through the struggles and focus on the game. Then let the ping-pong balls fall as they will. Enjoy Kobe while we got him. Lets not take anything for granted.

  32. Robert,
    It is the blocking out (an old Laker weakness) and rebounding that really frustrates me. You are right; that doesn’t take a lot of talent, just concentration on the fundamentals of basketball. Sure the other player may beat you, but you won’t continually get ‘smoked’. What I want tonight is players who will attack the boards. I do support more minutes for Jordan Hill, in this regard, but I think it is which minutes he plays that is more important.

    I also agree with you that tonight’s game is a very important starting point for the remainder of the season. We can do this.

  33. david h : Indeed – the battle of the Mike’s. A few stats – Mike Brown has a 631 win percentage over 7 years with 2 teams. Mike D’Antoni has a 529 win percentage over 12 years with 4 teams. Brown has won 47 playoff games in 7 years. D’Antoni has won 26 playoff games in 12 years. Brown has made the playoffs in all of his previous 6 years and made the Finals once. D’Antoni has made the playoffs in 6 of his previous 11 years. With the Lakers, Brown compiled a record of 42-29 and won 5 playoff games. D’Antoni has a record of 54-55 with the Lakers. D’Antoni needs this game to pull back to 500 with the Lakers. They both dress very well, and I’m sure they will both have killer suits on tonight.

    Craig: We got to – else this trip is going to be miserable

  34. Tonight’s game is actually win-able…I think. (Famous last words.)

  35. Forget about Cleveland and Mike Brown. Boston is coming up. Just save the legs in this one, play Mark Madsen or something. We gotta take down the Celtics.

  36. Darius, Please put my paypal information on this site: I want $5 everytime the “T” word is posted here.

    Soon, I’ll be able to buy out the Buss family ….

  37. Robert — thank you for adding something relevant; but please, more details about the pros and cons of MDA and MB’s wardrobes. :0)

  38. The Lakers just need to consider this season a wash and shut Kobe down. All these injuries have thinned out an already thin roster(at lest talent wise) and we want Kobe to come back so we can make a push at the 8th seed, it makes no sense. Let these young guys play for a contract and see what we can do in the off-season.

  39. R: Glad to amuse you : ) They both dress impeccably. The only con I see in each guy’s wardrobe is the absence of a large ring. Love the $5 idea. I will be rooting for you. I am trying to raise money for the same purpose.

  40. “The only con I see in each guy’s wardrobe is the absence of a large ring.”

    Robert, you are so sly! By “large ring” do you mean the type PJ has sooo many of?

  41. Lots of thoughts here.

    You can’t get players on one year contracts to tank. Not happening .

    You can as a origination not sign players and continue to force 8 guys to play 12 and wear out and lose.

    Which one do you all think is happening?

  42. I’ve been a Laker fan pretty much forever.
    We’ve rarely if ever had good draft position. (Except Magic).

    The T word is mostly irrelevant – cuz there’s no player in the league who
    would intentionally throw away a pass or miss a shot just so his franchise
    might get a better draft pick the following year.

    Same can be said for the coach.
    No coach would throw a game, for any reason.
    Their job security is too dependent on winning.

    And the Lakers FO will try to win every game they can.
    Kobe will try to win every time they step on the floor.
    Their new TV deal was based on supporting a proud franchise, with a history to match.

    As a fan, I keep watching, cuz that’s what fans do.
    We keep watching cuz we bleed Blue and Gold.
    Mitch and the gang will do their best with whatever pick they get,
    and sign the best free agent they can get, and go from there.
    That’s the long and short of it.

    I’ll be rooting for them, cursing the injury bug, an questioning the coaching decisions every step of the way, just like I always have.

  43. Who knows what is going to happen.

    No one. But we do know that the Lakers need to add elite players if they are going to be relevant in the championship picture again, and Wiggins and Embiid may become elite players. They certainly have a better chance to be elite NBA players than anybody under 30 currently on the Lakers does.

    As to Kobe, one could argue that his sitting out and resting/training more would be better for him and for the team over the next two years than playing him again this year would be. I obviously don’t know, but there is an argument there.