It was the start that every Lakers-hater was hoping for the star studded starting lineup of the Los Angeles Lakers. Starting the season with three straight defeats, an injured Steve Nash, and now without a permanent head coach due to the firing of Mike Brown. I don’t think a lot of us saw that coming.
The Lakers now have a record of 2-4. They were able to show some potential on how good they could really be during those two victories against Golden State and Detroit as they took care of them in a pretty convincing fashion, but in those four loses, their weaknesses were quite evident.
In my observation, there are two major problems that this team has to address in order to have a chance for the championship this season.
PROBLEM 1: Team chemistry + Princeton offense
The Lakers averaged 19 turnovers a game during their four defeats and had lost the ball more times than their opponents in each time. This was happening primarily because the new Princeton offense that Mike Brown and his coaching staff was trying to teach the team. Now the problem with that play was that it takes a lot of time for it to be mastered by a team and aside from that, I just don’t think that applying such a stiff and very systematic play like the Princeton offense would maximize the individual talents of their starting five considering how good they are. The Lakers have eight new players on their roster this season that they just acquired during the offseason, and Dwight Howard have just returned from his injury less than a month ago. So it is no surprise that the Lakers are really struggling to take care of the basketball during games. They are going to need more time to familiarize with each other’s game offensively and defensively too as a team since they allowed 103.75ppg for their opponents in their four defeats, and they should try to figure out what kind of play will fit them the best since the dysfunctional Princeton offense will most likely be thrown away following the firing of their coach, Mike Brown.
PROBLEM 2: Bench depth
In their four defeats so far, none of the bench players of the Lakers have been able to score at least ten points. The Lakers might have the best starting five in the league, but they also might have the worst bench in the league based on their performance so far. Kobe Bryant is about to turn 35 soon. They can’t keep letting him play close to 40 minutes every game. Antawn Jamison, who averaged 17.2ppg is supposed to be their scorer off the bench is just averaging 4.2ppg this season. Jodie Meeks and Devin Ebanks will not be enough to be back ups for the shooting guard and small forward role of a supposed championship contender. The Lakers will have to make a trade for a much more decent shooting guard or sign a free agent like Michael Redd or Mikhael Pietrus. The bench will be a very crucial factor for this team since four out of their five starters are already in their thirties with Steve Nash being thirty-eight already.
The big question now for the Lakers is that who will their new coach be.
There are three names surfacing around the rumor mill: Brian Shaw, Mike D’Antoni, and Phil Jackson(a.k.a Col. Sanders).
It seems that the Lakers are really pushing on getting Phil Jackson, the guy who got them five NBA titles. Hiring Mike D’Antoni won’t be a bad idea either considering his relationship with his former players Steve Nash(Phoenix Suns) and Kobe Bryant(Team USA). I think his run ’n gun offense will make a very interesting fit to the Lakers. Brian Shaw will also be a good pick since he is just like an apprentice of Phil Jackson, which means he has the knowledge of the triangle offense very well, and aside from that, he is well respected by Kobe Bryant who is his former teammate.
Acquiring a better back up off the bench and choosing a new coach would be two very crucial decisions for the Lakers. Two missing pieces of the puzzle for a possible sixth NBA championship ring for Kobe to finally be tied with Michael Jordan. Two very important decisions for the Lakers’ front office to make for Steve Nash’s possibly last chance to finally get the championship that he always deserved.
Images taken from the Lakers Website, among other resources.