Lakers’ fans have legitimate reasons to be excited this season. Whether it’s the prospect of watching a healthy Kobe, finally getting Julius Randle back, seeing if Jordan Clarkson can make another leap in his growth, or watching D’Angelo Russell develop there’s a newness and fresh feeling heading into this campaign. And because the last few seasons have been such horror shows, the light at the end of this particular tunnel seems even brighter.
The sense of optimism really is palpable. The fans are ready for this team to take a step forward and the players, coaches, and front office seem to all believe they will do just that. Remember, it’s not just the players mentioned above, it’s the additions of veterans Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, and Brandon Bass who add to this feeling the team can improve by a fair amount. This group, more than the last few season’s outfits, feels like a team. Yes there’s redundancy and there are depth questions at a couple of positions, but overall, you’d be hard pressed to find any fan who doesn’t feel better about this team than the one last year or the year prior.
Include me in that bunch, too.
Now is where I remove the blanket from the puddle of water on the floor and place it right on your shoulders. If you polled experts, the Lakers are still slotted to be one of the worst teams in the league. When stating this team will be better than last year, they agree it will be — just not by very much. And when the bar to clear is as low as a 21 win dumpster fire, improvement is a relative term. Especially when placing it in the context of the rest of the league.
While I do not know if the #ESPNForecast prediction of 26 wins will be accurate, I do have my own concerns about issues that could plague this team. Even if I forget for a moment my long held concerns with the head coach, there are several issues I’ve been mulling over that I cannot seem to escape as being issues worth diving deeper into.
And since I love bullet points, here we go…
*In Russell, Clarkson, Lou Williams, and, reportedly, Marcelo Huertas the Lakers have a group of guards who all do their best work as ball-handlers in the pick and roll. And while Byron Scott seems willing to adjust his offense to run more of this action (he did so last year with Clarkson), one has to wonder if pairing those guys with Roy Hibbert is the best option. Hibbert isn’t the most fleet footed big man, but he may be asked to run to the top of circle or extended wing multiple times in a single possession to set and reset screens to try and free up the guards. If Hibbert cannot thrive in a P&R heavy offense, but the team needs him defensively, how does that balance shake out?
*Who will guard the other team’s best wing player? I’m not just talking about Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, or James Harden here. Players like Dwyane Wade, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Joe Johnson, and Paul George populate nearly every roster in the league. These guys are major threats and, many times, the focal point of their team’s offensive attack. In years past, the Lakers started a wing opposite Kobe whose focus was primarily on defense (Ariza, Artest, even Wes Johnson). This year, the Lakers are likley to start Jordan Clarkson next to Kobe. So, does Kobe take the challenge to guard these players? Does Clarkson give up size and strength — especially in match ups against natural SF’s — to guard them?
*Speaking of Clarkson, how does he manage the transition from PG to SG? I’m as high on the 2nd year guard as anyone. I think his combination of quickness, athleticism, and, most of all, his desire and ability to learn from his mistakes and apply new things to his game bode well for his career. However, the physical advantages that helped him be effective against point guards will be reduced when facing shooting guards and, in some cases, small forwards. How will he manage bigger players closing out on him, contesting his jumper, and bodying him up on drives into the paint? How will do chasing bigger players off screens or banging in the post with players who outweigh him by 15-20 pounds?
*Can this team help the helper well enough to defend at an adequate level? I’m on board with the talk that Hibbert’s skill set as a rim protector filling a major need. However, I think back to Dwight Howard’s lone season with the team and have a lasting memory of Dwight consistently pointing the finger at his teammates wondering where his help was. I get that Dwight’s frustration was partially with himself — he was clearly not recovered from his back injury and was not anywhere near the terror defensively he was with the Magic — and that he could have handled himself better in general (his demeanor did not endear him to fans or, I’d imagine, his teammates). But, it would be silly to say that Dwight was off-base in questioning the integrity of the team’s defense. He would often be in the right position to help on penetration only to have a teammate be late or ill-positioned to cover his back. This led to the Lakers still giving up a ton of paint points even with Dwight patrolling the middle. Needless to say, Hibbert would very much like for their not to be an encore of this scenario. The question is, will his teammates — many of them young and inexperienced or older/not very good defensively — be able to help him avoid it?
No one can know for certain how this will play out. The questions above could all be answered in the affirmative in the Lakers’ favor with things working out well on all fronts. However, it is probably more likely some of these concerns end up coming to fruition and damaging the team’s chances at winning games.
Again, I’m all for being hopeful about his upcoming season. And regardless of how any of the above questions are answered, I do believe the team is headed in the right direction. But, a deep dive into any team’s chances will reveal real questions worth pondering. The Lakers are no different and while no one really wants to be the bearer of bad news, here I am.
You would think that Hibbert’s top of the key shooting would make him pretty good in the pick and pop game. I’ll give a shameless plug for Upshaw here as well the one thing he demonstrated very well in summer league is that he knows how to set screens really well.
Lastly, the experts are a conservative lot. If a team record was x last year they predict about the same plus or minus 5 games. Much like the weather from day to day if you said tomorrow will be like yesterday you would be right most of the time. And this holds up in sports predictions when turnover is rather modest. When a team goes through a complete overhaul like the Lakers it is really hard to predict what will happen. But I like what I see, so I’m somewhat bullish on next year. I think experts are off.
Darius Soriano says
All good points. Even to the questions I raised, there are mitigating factors (like you mentioned RE Hibbert) that can lessen the cause for concern or almost fully remove it. I do think, as I wrote, that these concerns are valid.
The Lakers will be probably be a bit better, in part because it is pretty hard to not to get better after going 21-61. But they have the same problem they have had the last two years: no one on the team projects to be a healthy, elite player this year. Kobe obviously used to be one, and Russell may become one. But right now, Kobe is old, and can’t be counted on to stay on the floor, and Russell is a 19-year-old rookie.
The secondary problem is the roster imbalance–there is a lot of redundancy among the perimeter players, and as DS notes, no defense-first wing.
I have nothing against Lou Williams per se, and I have no issue with adding Huertas. But I think I would have preferred locking in Kobe/Clarkson/Russell as a three-guard rotation, with Young/JBrown taking the minutes when Kobe needs a night off and then the Lakers picking up a low-usage wing on the cheap to cover the 3.
Right now, PlanetLakers revolves around the sun of developing Russell, Randle and Clarkson, and I am not sure the roster as constructed optimizes that. I hope it does.
Roderick Redus says
Darius, the points that you raised were all valid ones. My counterpoints to your points would be: How are the other teams going to guard the myraid of scorers the Lakers present in Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, Nick Young, Lou Williams and D’Angelo Russell? Here are five dynamic guards/wings that can and will create their own offense as well as play-make at will. Explosive power forward Julius Randle will also be a handful and then some for these teams to deal with in the upcoming season. The Lakers bring a lot of depth, scoring, play-making and athleticism to the table that frankly, other teams are going to have difficulty in dealing with game in and game out. As for the Lakers’ defense? Center Roy Hibbert is an elite rim protector and judging from their roster, the Lakers will have enough adequate wing defenders that can compliment what Big Roy brings to the table. I see the Lakers as a 45 to 48-win team, which is certainly enough to put them in the conversation for a 7th to 8th seed in the Western Conference. I’m not as mesmerized by the West as you and your collegues seem to be at this time. For one thing, I don’t care what anyone else thinks, but Dallas and Portland took huge steps back when it comes to being a playoff team. Secondly, the West is top heavy, with the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Warriors and Rockets making the proverbial top 5 West rankings. Outside of those five teams, I see a marginally-good team in the Pelicans and young, talented squads like the Lakers, Timberwolves, Jazz, Suns and Kings fighting for the remaining three playoff spots. To me, the Lakers have a better blend of young talent and proven veteran experience than do the Timberwolves, Jazz and Suns. We can agree to disagree on that, of course,
david h says
darius: I kinda like that thinking. so going 30 and 52 is realistic; that we remain competitive throughout the season, have less blow out games and the young guys remain with their heads and chins up more often than not and should be exemplified by the veterans.
good read once again.
Darius Soriano says
You forgot the Grizzlies. The West has 6 excellent teams — Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Clippers, and Grizzlies. The Pelicans made the playoffs last year. The Jazz were one of the better teams in the 2nd half of last season. That’s 8 teams who all project to be better than the Lakers.
Again, I have hopes this team will play well and I like the direction they’re going in. But, like I said earlier, I think my concerns above are grounded in reality. As an aside, once you start to talk about how dynamic the playmakers on the Lakers are and how they’ll be used, we start to get into coaching. As I’ve noted before, I’m not particularly high on Byron Scott as a tactician. We shall see how it goes, though.
Teams assembled in one summer with as many question marks as the Lakers have (average coach, average veterans and very young youngsters) are not suddenly going to win 45 – 48 games. The NBA simply doesn’t work that way. Talent, chemistry and coaching win games.
Reread rr’s comments above. Yes, we are better than last year but we still have far to go. Additionally, I wrote the following in a previous thread. I surmised that the next two years will be tough. We are what we are this year. Next summer looks thin as far as reinforcements (likely losing our pick and very few talented FAs that fit our core’s time horizon available):
I think we have Scott through 2016/17 season. We’re at square one now and we really don’t know what we have yet. So as much as I don’t think Scott is a good fit, he should stay on until we get a better handle on what kind of talent we have. Plus, I don’t think it’s fair to bring in a young up and coming coach to have to deal with Kobe (and yes, I think the Buss kids will beg him to play one more year). Lastly, I don’t think a coach worth his weight would come on board until this ‘Jim Buss promise thing’ is worked out. There’s a lot of moving parts but the Lakers have created much of this uncertainty themselves.
So the Summer of 2017 is key. That summer we could be looking at FO changes, it’s a big one for Free Agents and the kiddie core should have developed into a solid foundation by that time. Kobe’s one year extension would have expired. That my friends is the Summer the franchise turns the corner and completely moves forward. New FO (hopefully), new coach, solid/young foundation and getting better on the floor by adding a free agent or two.
Something to look forward to.
Team: Many of us have agreed that the specific wins and losses are not too important this year. Unfortunately, we will probably win too many games to keep the pick, but nowhere near enough to get an 8th seed. That said, it is about developing the young guys and this could happen even with a bad record. As far as whether we are going in the right direction: Hopefully we are, but much of that is on faith. We have not seen Randal or Russell play even one full game combined, and the pre-season performance was not great. We are projected to be one of the worst teams in the league for the third year running. So – evidence that we are headed in the right direction is not abundant.
Coach: We need to remember all of the team’s short comings this year when evaluating Byron. Again it is not so much wins and losses, but the development of the young guys. In any case, Byron’s days are numbered, but he will/should complete this whole year. WWL mentioned Mark Jackson a couple threads back. I like this. At present, we are owned/run by Buss/Buss, we are managed by Buss/Kupchak, and we are coached by Scott. If we replaced Byron with Mark Jackson, this could mean that in the summer of 2017 (the beginning of the real rebuild), we will have a management group of Owner = Buss (1 Buss not two), a GM named West, and a Coach named Jackson. I like the sound of that.
– I agree, Lakers will be better this year then the previous two. But I’m looking at it a bit differently, or at least focusing on a major point that many rather not.Finally, NO ONE believes Kobe can make a major difference with this team on the floor or in the standings. Everyone is ready and open for a change.
– Finally, reality has set in. It’s all about the mindset.
– Go Lakers
Corey Bruce says
I like the way you think rob
Is it Oct yet? I can’t wait to watch my Lakers. I fully expect them to be terrible, but a different kind of terrible. We get to see young talented players trying to provide they belong. Maybe we get a superstar or maybe we get an Eddie Jones. Either way, I’m good. I’ve been blessed to see my team win 10 Championships. How many people get that from any team. The past few years have been hard to watch, but I don’t care. I’ve made my choice. I’m staying and I’m not leaving. What I’m most excited about is seeing the different lineups and who is going to step up to be my favorite player for the next decade. 🙂
The Front Office has definitely loaded up with players who share many similarities. It seems they haven’t decided how much they are willing to commit to the “development ” direction. They seem a bit more interested in winning now. If the summer league team had performed better, we wouldn’t have all these recent signings… or would we?
We still don’t have a truly good wing defender. Once upon a time Kobe was good at guarding forwards. Can he shift his focus this season to the defensive end of the floor?
Loving the realistic approach Darius. Temper your expectations people! Go look at every rookie’s numbers for the past 20 years and tell me who legitimately “turned around a franchise” in their first season…Lebron and…I’ll wait….
We play the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Clips, Rockets, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Suns, Jazz, Cavs, Heat, Wizards, Raptors, Hawks, Bucks, and Celtics. This makes up around 70% of our total games. Not only are all of these teams more talented than the Lakers, they have decent to great coaching and chemistry built over more than an offseason. Nobody on our team has played more than a handful of games together, and our coach is stuck in the 80’s. Seriously, the only person in the NBA who prefers a midrange shot to a three-pointer is Byron Scott. Can someone fax a shot chart to Jimmy Buss for me?
Wake me up when it’s October 31st, 2017.
Sid, why is that a good thing?
i mean, if Kobe can’t play anymore, he definitely shouldn’t be out there, but why would that be a good thing? obviously, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, since life is like that, but i’m in no hurry to stop watching him until he is done, regardless of his role. he has never been a bad thing for Lakers basketball, in fact exactly the opposite.
on other matters-
i like this team’s build for a team transitioning into the future version. that’s something no one can predict with accuracy, but it’s happening as we watch. if everyone is healthy and plays up to their normal abilities consistently, the Lakers will have a nice record and a chance to get it all right in the playoffs. even for a complete, veteran team, this is an iffy proposition. for youngsters, it’s a big load. some young people can handle it, most can’t.
as usual, i’m going to think happy thoughts while i can. i don’t mean that i’m unwilling to see the obvious pitfalls, it just means i hope the driver misses them. this is because there are a small number of people who have anything direct to say about how it all goes down, and they have no idea(but they may have dreams) how any of this will play out. after a few years of everything bad happening that could possibly happen, it’s easy to decide that life has always been so. the truth is, there are bound to be bad times, surprisingly bad times. but there are also surprisingly good times in this world. at this point in time, there is still a mix available. there are good times to come, somehow. it could even be this year that everything goes as good as it has been bad.
if everything goes bad again this year, everyone can be depressed as they like, but please remember the next season is the next chance that everything will go well. no team ever has won any championship except that everything went right for a season. it’s true that people have their parts to play, but it’s also true that a championship (or any other “great” accomplishment) is a miraculous “perfect storm” of events, of a lack of accidents, of unusual focus, of good fortune. there is never a guarantee (in an actual competitive league) of success, even with the best players(Lakers fans of the ’60s and ’70s can tell you about it). sometimes a few very good players and some good players are enough. it doesn’t always need to be superstars. ask the Warriors (or the Pistons). you never know when every opponent you face has a key man missing. well, this team doesn’t look to be in the same class with the Warriors, of course. but preseason hasn’t even started either. there is a whole lot to see before we even have any idea what the team will actually look like.
From Grantland’s Jason Concepcion September 3rd article about Kobe and Shaq’s feud. It was a footnote about the current Lakers’ starting five. Concepcion’s comments in parentheses:
Projected 2015-16 Lakers starting five:
C – Roy Hibbert (trash)
F – Brandon Bass (whatever)
F – Nick Young (currently trying to make the Australian Olympic basketball team)
G – Kobe Bryant (37, coming off an Achilles and shoulder injury)
G – D’Angelo Russell (rookie)
Head Coach: Byron Scott, a.k.a the only coach in NBA history to register four straight seasons in the bottom five for defensive efficiency
there is a whole lot to see before we even have any idea what the team will actually look like.
You and some other guys have said stuff like this the last two years, but that is not generally how the NBA works and it has obviously not been the case with the Lakers either of the last two years. Occasionally, like PHX and ATL, a team will click and exceed expectations. This usually happens based on a combination of youngish guys (but not rookies) breaking out and a new coach (Hornacek, Budenholzer) coming in and having a high impact.
With the Lakers, we pretty much know what Bass, Hibbert, Young, Kobe, Williams, Sacre, and Kelly will look like. The big question there is whether Kobe’s body will allow to him to stay on the floor.
Nance, ABrown, Russell and to a large extent Randle will all be rookies. We don’t know exactly what they will look like, but it is highly likely that they will all need time and patience.
That leaves Clarkson. SSR ran a piece yesterday talking about Clarkson as a possible breakout guy, and it could conceivably happen. But Clarkson as many have noted is already 23, so he may not get all that much better. IMO we should all be very happy with him, with the coaching staff, and with the FO if he can just make some incremental improvements and be a pretty good starter.
And, finally, Byron Scott, as I have said many times, is a known quantity.
The real difference between this year and last year is that there are reasons to watch this team. Last year, after Kobe and Randle went down, there was no real reason to watch the Lakers except old-school loyalty (which I applaud). This year, there are reasons to tune in, but it is unlikely that the team will win more than about 30 games.
great post mud, 2 thumbs up!
always level-headed, does us all a bit of good around here 😉
I believe any expectations with regards to wins or losses, only serve to add pressure to, and thus could potentially derail a fragile rebuilding process.
We should allow them to grow organically, and enjoy this group of unique and exciting young men.
I don`t really have a good fix because of all the changes in the roster. Really looking forward to the pre-season games. The real challenge for Byron besides tactics, will be finding the right combination to put on the floor. Defense rather than scoring figures to be a weakness,and how to deal with it without giving up too much(in terms of personnel) on the offensive end.
rr, you are just wrong.
because the Lakers were bad last year doesn’t mean that folks like yourself who called the team bad before the season started were right. if you remember, the Lakers never put the team that they had expected to put on the floor, on the floor. never, not from day one of the season. that’s what made it such a terrible season. it wasn’t coaching or the lack of talent, even though that team wasn’t talent laden. it was the same bagaboo that killed the seasons before that, injuries.
you can blame the injuries on coaching or trainers, but all the injuries were the result of impact. impact injuries can’t be accounted for. even with what was a skeleton crew, the Lakers played most teams competitively all year. it’s quite easy to say that with a little better luck, the Lakers would have had an acceptable record last year instead of the worst. of course if wishes were fishes….
as i also keep saying, there is no prize for being correct about predictions of doom, at least not for a fan of the team. in fact, it’s the opposite. people like you, rr, seem to get joy from throwing buckets of ice water on everyone. the fact is you don’t know anything yet. the season hasn’t started and we don’t know exactly who will play or how much they will play. we don’t know who will fit and who will not. we don’t know who will excel and who will not.
it’s unlikely the team will win more than 30 games? , well that may indeed be true, but if things go well and everyone performs at the levels that they are reasonably capable of and there are no major injuries and the team bonds together, they can easily win 45-50 games. this isn’t a prediction, it’s just a dumb and dumber “it’s a chance!!”. there’s no reason to spoil the fun before the season starts. if you know FOR A FACT that the Lakers will win less than 30 hames, perhaps the team should just forfeit their contests this year and try again next year. this would put the NBA even further up the road to WWE territory, however.
SPACING from the 3point shots falling from deep will give great driving lanes for Kobe JC, JR, making the extra pass is the key wide open looks will be there calling card #showtime2.0 on offensive End Now Defense I am wishing on a great Hibbert showing he still has that Bump and grind ! The article was good for Us starving Lakers Fans
For all the mention on needing a legitimate 2 way SF, Our FO is making it openly obvious its intention to leave that hole on this team to lure in Durant next year even though thats clearly a losing battle….. unless the kids grow up quick and win a fair amount of games after All-star break
as i also keep saying, there is no prize for being correct about predictions of doom, at least not for a fan of the team.
I agree with you in the sense that I think predictions are overrated. But since you feel this way, you should probably stop making bold statements about what you think the team can be and do and just watch the games. You have way too much ego invested in this idea of who is right, who knows what, etc. We are just some fans giving our opinions about the team and supporting them as best we can. No harm is being done to anything or anyone in that process. I am wrong, or partially wrong, about stuff all the time (Nash deal, Sessions trade) and when that occurs, I own up.
That said, a few points:
1. As DS noted the other day when we were talking about ESPN projections, there is generally a certain amount of acuity in consensus. And this year, like last, there is a pretty broad consensus that the Lakers will be one of the worst teams in the league. Last year, that consensus was correct and as DS pointed out, ESPN’s predictions have been pretty good over the years.
2. As to the injury issue, one of the primary reasons that people thought the Lakers would struggle is that Kobe is very old (70 in basketball years, as he put it) his body is falling apart, he has not been able to stay on the floor, and last year’s team was still counting on him to drive the O. Kobe going down was just part of who the Lakers were and are.
3. My main point about this issue last year was that players have track records, so it is simply false to presume that we know so little about them, or about what they can and can’t do. There is far more data–visual/statistical/medical–about players now than at any time in the history of the game, and they don’t magically become new players when they wear the Purple and Gold. Certainly, players can improve, they can do better when utilized intelligently, and they can do better under some coaches than under others. But we already know plenty about the guys playing on the Lakers and about the guy coaching the Lakers. The guys we don’t know about are, of course, the rookies, but we do know that almost all NBA rookies go through a learning curve and given that the Lakers’ prize rookie is
a) a 19-year-old point guard
b) not possessed of John Wall/Russell Westbrook athleticism
It is very likely that Russell will struggle some and will have a long learning curve. Do we know that for sure? No. But it is the most likely outcomes, and predictions are just educated/semi-educated guesses at likely outcomes.
LT Mitchell says
When comparing last year’s starters to this year’s, IMO, every position has improved. From Price to Russell, Clarkson to an improved Clarkson, and Wesley to Kobe. I think Bass is a better all around player than Jordan Hill, and as much as I like Ed Davis, Hibbert is the better fit.
People are underestimating the impact a motivated Hibbert playing for a contract is going to have. When Gobert (finally) became the starter in Utah, the Jazz became a different team….. and I believe that Hibbert can have close to the same impact on the Lakers.
With Lou and Randall, the bench should also be much improved.
I think 30 wins is the low end of the spectrum, and as Mud mentioned, if things go right, I would not be shocked to see this team win enough games to squeak into the playoffs, despite what the party poopers on this blog and ESPN say.
I believe the Lakers are more than marginally better than last year. They have upgraded at virtually every position. Just for perspective:
Randle > Boozer
Bryant > Johnson
Hibbert > Hill
Russell > Price
Clarkson >= Clarkson
Make no mistake about it this is a much better team. I could bemoan the fact that despite getting rid of Boozer, Davis, and Hill they somehow managed to have a gut of power fowards this year too but, they are still far better position by position than last year.
Last year the Lakers had a PF Hill filling in as a Center. This year the Lakers have a bonafide rim protecting Center in Hibbert. Last year we had Price filling in for significant periods of time as our starting PG. This year we have a PG with a bright future ahead of him backed up by a true PG in Huertas. It a better situation at PG than there has been in years and the future only looks better.
Last year we had Johnson at SF and no one behind him. This year its Bryant who has historically done well there and we have some depth with the rookie A Brown and young backing him up. Some might worry about how Kobe will match up against LeBron but, for 90% of the regular season this is unquestionably a big upgrade.
The starting line up is better, the backups are better. Up and down it is better than last year.
Ok so what about the competition. I would grant that there are at least 6 teams if healthy are mortal locks for the playoffs. However I would say they at least the Pelicans and the Thunder are 1 or 2 injuries from going back to the lottery. That crowded play off picture can open significantly with just a few unfortunate injuries.
I would also point out that this Laker team is probably the least dependent on Bryant in over 15 years. I don’t think an injury to Bryant this year would be as dramatic as it might have in years past. Could you say the same for Davis or Durant?
All this said I think the range of possibilities are quite wide. I think the odds are small they will be about as bad as last year and also small that they will be a playoff team. I think most likely though they are going to be better, heading in the right direction, and most importantly watchable.
Craig W. says
Russell is certainly a wait-and-see player, but he certainly has the potential to validate his #2 status. Everyone seems to want the athletic PG like Wall or Rose, but neither has led their team’s to even a conference championship game. Both have has some injuries. Stef Curry isn’t the athlete Wall is, but he is a better guard. Being game-smart and having passing genius would seem to be two traits teams would trade athleticism for, particularly if they have someone athletic they can pass to.
We sometimes seem to be unhappy if a player isn’t a plus player in every aspect. Well, Magic wasn’t a plus player in every aspect, but I certainly would pick him as one of the top 2-3 players to start my team with – and I wouldn’t say that about Michael Jordan.
Following Kobe, we need someone who can develop into a leader and someone to direct the team. From first impressions, those are traits Russell may very well have.
too much ego invested?
pot, meet kettle.
i acknowledge the irrationality of my enthusiasm. i actually expect nothing.
i also don’t care how much doom and gloom some want to paint the picture with. it is WAY too early to play Eeyore.
too much ego invested?
Yep. The fact that you made a big deal about the team surprising people last year and it was in fact just as bad or worse as most people thought it would be is not really a reflection on you–everyone misses on predictions sometimes–yet here you are a year later insisting loudly that it was really everyone else who was wrong.
If you want to be an optimist, that’s OK. But people who aren’t are not lesser fans than you are–and again, you don’t get to tell other people how to be fans.
I think the key there, like I said is “watchable.” But there are some issues with what you are saying, one being that Lin and Clarkson played a lot of 1 last year so it is not simply Russell/Price. The other is what we might call True Talent vs. Current Value. Randle and Kobe are much more talented than Boozer and Johnson in a Platonic sense, but Randle is a 21 year-old rookie, Kobe is 37, and both of them are coming off serious injuries. How much they will really do for the team this year is in question.
Hibbert will help with rim protection, and that is important. But I think we will see that there are very real reasons that Larry Bird wanted Hibbert out of Indiana. And as Robert said, a lot of optimism is based on hope and faith in the rookies.
I think the Lakers will probably be better than last year as well—I just think it is much more likely that “better” means 28-54 than it means 41-41.
Craig W. says
You are a very smart basketball person, but you have a definite bias against the Laker organization and view every move in a dark light. After a while you are as depressing as the Pollyanna viewpoint is irrational. You say it is realism, but your realism is no more valid than my realism – and I see the year ahead in much more optimistic terms that you do.
The downer view of Kobe as a has-been who can no longer learn any new basketball habits is not a very rational view of either Kobe’s history or his intelligence, but some call this view reality. We are all somewhat hampered by our biases, but we don’t have to build a wall and say anyone outside our wall is absolutely wrong.
rr, you are so defensive that you really miss the point. that’s what ego is. it’s fine, you are not bad.
when did i say that i was or wasn’t correct last year? i was neither. i made no predictions.
i did say that last year’s team wasn’t BAD, per se, although the season was terrible. i said the team that was put together never played, but at least the guys that they threw out there competed. i said that the people who predicted a bad year weren’t exactly correct even though it WAS a bad year. the reason is that the team that was predicted to be bad never played one game. instead, a collection of fill-ins played. one look at a lineup starting Dwight Byuks at point verifies that. i said that IF the team is healthy and everyone performs up to their actual abilities, no better or worse, the Lakers are solidly in the playoffs. until a healthy team completely washes out, i cannot be proven wrong. this doesn’t make me a genius. i’m obviously an idiot.
Each of the last two years, you have both said the same kinds of things about the team: could be better than people think, chemistry could lead to surprises, no one knows what is going to happen, things are going to be interesting, most fans are ignorant, media guys are full of it, pessimists are a downer and should be quiet, etc., and each of the last two years, you have often combined that with knocking people who didn’t agree with you and who said the team was simply going to be bad. You have both done this with great insistence, and, occasionally, a smattering of personal hostility. And each of the last two years, both of you have been dead wrong about the team. And before you talk about injuries again, one reason people have been down on the Lakers the last two years is that they have looked like a team that would have injury issues.
Perhaps the third time will be the charm, and the Lakers will win 43 games, Byron will be CoTY, Kobe will be CPoTY , Russell will be ROtY and Mitch and Jim will be Co-Execs of the Year. If those things happen, and I see them happening in ways that I think can get the Lakers back into contention before the decade ends, no one on this board will be happier than I will be. Having a team as bad and as devoid of young talent as this one has been is a drag for any number of reasons: less fun to watch, other fanbases pointing and laughing, etc. etc. And if it goes down the even somewhat way I described above, I will show up here and say, “Hey, I was wrong about some things.”
That’s the difference.
The other thing to consider is this: instead of writing off the media with the “talking heads” meme or saying fans who think the team will lose a lot are not real fans, you might entertain the possibility that you have to something to learn from some of the media people and from some of those pessimistic fans.
why are you defending yourself, rr? do you just want to be the one who’s right? i hope you’re wrong, of course. i want better for the team. it’s not that i don’t like you.
what do i need to learn? i have already acknowledged what you wish acknowledged. i have eyes. you may think you could have done better in charge of the team, and maybe you could have. you’re not in charge, however. it’s just as likely that you would have failed miserably. it’s easier to criticize than to do. sometimes critique is in order, though.
i surely haven’t been wrong about the team, however. i have never made any predictions. i have always qualified my optimism. the funny thing is how little it matters! it’s just entertainment. i root for the Lakers not because they win, although i love that part about the team, i root for them because they’re my city’s team and so they’ve been my team for a long time. there’s no logic to it. please don’t be petty.
Back to darius points, who i thknk are all valid:
1) pick and roll action:
While i agree that roy isnt particulary good in those kind of actions, i think we will see randle as the primary pick-setter up high, while hibbert will screen at the corners/baseline off the ball in sets. That way, big roy will stay near the basket to get offensive rebounds while randle can use his athletisicm for some easy baskets. Randle is also working on his J, so we can play some pick and pop. I also think that kobe will set screens a lot as BS has hinted to him playing some 4 this year.
2) Guarding the opponents best wing:
I think this is the most critical point. Maybe kobe will be on the opponents 4 as the league shifts more and more towards small ball, this way all kobe has to do is get a hand in their face. I think he could guard the likes of draymond green. This way, randle could be used as the primary defender against the more athletic big wings ala lebron. I also expect us to play a ton of different zones, with a player like roy perfectly equipped to patrol the paint (a la t.chandler for those mavs in their finals win)
I think it is a needed step in the development of JC if he really wants to become a go to guy. I cant tell if he makes it, but i really hope he will take a step this year. Playing the 2 is best for him, i always preffered a more traditional point guard play.
4) help the helper
First, as stated above, i think we will play zone a lot, so this is crucial. However, i think the only guy we have to worry about here in terms of quickness and effort regarding D and helping out is kobe. The young guys will be allright, they will give all they got and, even if they miss out on some rotations, i expect them to be way better on D than last year.
But even if i am optimistic, i dont expect too much out of this group. They are still too youn and therefore too mistake-prone to win close games (which i expect us to have a lot of). I hope we will be somewhere in the middle of the pack.
I admit my comparison might be an oversimplification but the premise is sound. There was a lot of churn at starting pg last year.
The possible outcomes this year range wildly. With so many rookies and new additions it comes down to opinion as to how well things will work out. In my opinion things are better than the experts at espn believe. In any case this is a team worth watching. 🙂
Please note that I said it first. This year’s Lakers will be the first team in NBA history to win all 82 games!
GOOOooooOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!