The Los Angeles Lakers are stuck in a curious position within the NBA landscape. They don’t have any real expectations going into this season after Dwight Howard left for the Houston Rockets, and Kobe Bryant being out indefinitely since last season’s devastating Achilles injury. Having said that, they are also the L.A. Lakers, and fans of that team don’t handle losing often or well, so they are expected to compete and at the very least be competitive. So far they have done enough not to embarrass themselves, while also displaying the lack of experience and talent throughout much of the roster.
They stand at 3-4, switching off wins and losses so far. This trend will probably change for the worse pretty soon, until Bryant can return at a facsimile of his himself. As that famous quote goes, the whole are greater than the sum of its parts. Looking at the statistics of the Lakers roster so far is pretty depressing, and the fact they have as good a record as 3-4 is rather surprising.
When Jodie Meeks has been your best player, you know that is a pretty good indicator of the situation you find yourself in as a team. He leads the Lakers in ppg, and has been shooting lights out from the three point line. The problem for the Lakers is that Meeks can’t carry the team, and can’t be trusted to consistently be the teams primary scorer. Future Hall of Famer, Pau Gasol has been rebounding tremendously and playing pretty good defense, especially against old buddy Dwight Howard the other night, but his offensive game has been horrendous. He is averaging only 12 ppg, and shooting only 35% from the field. In order for the Lakers to compete going forward, Gasol will have to be the one carrying them. While no longer in his prime, their should be no reason why he can’t anchor this current roster both offensively and defensively.
Steve Blake, who hit the game winning three against the Houston Rockets earlier in the week, has played the most minutes per game on the team, topping out at almost 31 minutes a game. No one else on the roster reaches 30 a game, which tells me that head coach Mike D’Antoni is just trying to mix and match as much as possible, and get production from whomever, whenever he can. As the saying goes, you can’t make chicken salad out of….
The most depressing aspect in this young season so far for the Lakers has been the precipitous decline of Steve Nash’s game, and the agony of watching this current version of Nash struggle so mightily. He is playing just less than 25 minutes a night, averaging 7.6 points and shooting a downright putrid 28 %. To make matters worse for the Lakers front office and fans, Nash recently came out and said he plans to finish out his contract with the Lakers, which I’m sure makes everyone involved with the Lakers jump for joy.
Having said all that about the Lakers, they are still a respectable 3-4 and with some potential to get better if, and when Bryant comes back. Blake’s game winning 3 pointer had to be extra sweet considering it came against the Howard-led Rockets, and much like the Celtics beating the Heat, this might be one of the Lakers highlights of the season, at least until the Black Mamba comes roaring back.