In a game of how bad can we be?, the Lakers were emperors of the court against the Jazz on Monday night. They needed a last second three pointer from D’Angelo Russell just to tie their all-time worst losing margin of 48 points. Per the NBA’s stat tool, they posted a net efficiency differential of negative 57.1. Minus. Fifty. Seven. Point. One.
They had gems of defensive possessions like this one:
Look at how everyone works together! That’s how you move on a string! Look at all that effort! None of those sentences are true. Kobe literally didn’t move that entire clip. Only Russell and Hibbert tried to even help and both guys were late.
Not to be outdone on offense, look at this beauty:
I really don’t have much to add here. I mean…sigh.
As if the play on the court wasn’t bad enough, Byron Scott decided he would take this opportunity to remind everyone of how bad his team is. You know, as if the score and the actual plays from the game didn’t reinforce that concept enough. Nope, he decided he would go in one more time because why not?
A sampling (via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News):
“You have to show this organization that you deserve to be here and you understand what wearing that purple and gold is all about,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I don’t think a lot of guys in that locker room understand that right now.”
Wait. There’s more.
“I don’t look at any of those guys as being our next Kobe,” Scott said. “They can be a piece of it or part of it. But not to get to that level that he has gotten to.”
Oh hey, let’s double down on that.
Scott then suggested the Lakers are more likely to find their next leader in the free agent market. “It would be nice,” Scott added…
Let’s go one by one because, when your team submits its latest opus in being awful, getting quotes from the conductor about what the players need to do is always worthwhile, right coach?
On the first point about deserving to be there and understanding what wearing that purple and gold is all about, all I can say is pot meet kettle. Yes, the players played awful. We know that because we watched the game. What is the coach’s role here, though? If it’s to call out his guys and put the blame on them, send this guy to the hall of fame. But if it’s to try and make adjustments to stop the bleeding or find ways to motivate them to do better — either by putting them in better positions to succeed or communicating with them in a way which inspires the effort you want — it seems Scott is having issues.
On the point about none of the young players being the next Kobe. You mean none of the current players are, possibly, one of the greatest 10 players in the history of the league? You mean they can be part of a great team, but not the driving force behind it? And you know this after a season or two? This could be right on, of course. It could also be wildly incorrect and the type of thing that is said in the moment which probably should not be.
Lastly, you want the next great player to be grabbed in free agency? Because, clearly, none of the guys on the roster are that guy. I know, I know, better to be given a ready made Hall of Famer to lead the team. That’s the best way to get back to the top. Scott knows this well, of course, since that’s what Jason Kidd was to him in New Jersey when he experienced his most success as a head coach when Kidd was the driving force behind two Finals appearances.
Taking all of those quotes, I wonder why it looks like this coach might not be getting the best effort out of his players. Not only does he seemingly not believe in their prospects to become franchise altering players — and, again, he’s made this determination after a season for Russell and two seasons for Randle/Clarkson — but he also seemingly doesn’t believe in their ability to lead the team forward, instead preferring to have the next leader of the team be brought in via free agency.
I’m guessing there are a lot of people who would also like it if the team’s next leader is brought in this summer. Only, they’re not talking about a player…
When it comes right down to it, when the Lakers lose by 48 points or when they have 15 wins through 74 games, there’s more than enough blame to go around. The players, the front office, and, yes, the head coach and his staff all deserve to take hits for what this season has become and the level of play in this final stretch.
With that, it would be nice to hear all of those parties own up to that. Instead, we get more comments from one of those parties about what others need to do better and what they are or aren’t, with the implication that it’s really only on them. As someone who’s been here, watching (basically) every game of the past two seasons, it’s tiring. And I can bet I’m not the only one who feels that way.