Let’s flash back to last summer, shall we? The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off one of the greatest heists in NBA history once again in stealing Dwight Howard and trading just Andrew Bynum to acquire him. Remember the shock from all of the basketball world? Remember how ESPN pretty much said the Lakers were gonna win the title? Remember the SI cover with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash titled how the season was gonna be “fun?” Yeah, well….. it was all good just a year ago.
The Lakers struggled to begin the year, firing then coach Mike Brown after starting off the season slow. They hired Mike D’Antoni, and the Lakers actually had a 45 win season, which led to a seven seed in the West, and an embarrassing exit in the playoffs without the guy who pretty much put the team on his back in Kobe Bryant, who tore his Achilles in the last week of the regular season. The off-season turned into a slideshow, begging for Dwight Howard to stay in Los Angeles (https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/i-hate-my-team/) and that turned into a comedy show because Dwight Howard wasn’t going to stay with the Lakers. Everybody, including Dwight knew that. Dwight treated the Lakers like one of his baby mamas.
This is Dwight Howard’s life in a nutshell (no pun intended. Okay, maybe).
At first, he thought the Lakers were this new sexy toy because he was tired of having children with his old toy (Orlando Magic), so he decided to get the new toy pregnant. Then, when the going got tough, Dwight decided he was fed up and wanted to have another sexy toy. So when the moment reached, Dwight saw he was free and BOOM, on to Houston because they are the new sexy toy in his eyes. (BOOM BABY! Houston strip clubs about to be POPPIN off this year!!!! Houston fans, if Dwight gets fed up in three years and wants another toy, he’ll make sure he’ll get his way). So Laker fans, we were just a groupie to Dwight Howard.
Where does that leave the Lakers now? How do the Lakers go from here?
Well for the starters, I don’t know what the Lakers plan down the road is. Do the Lakers want to tank this year, get a top 5 pick + clean salary cap except for Steve Nash’s contract next year? Or do these interesting cast of characters attempt to actually make the playoffs? Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss did the right thing in my eyes to letting Dwight Howard walk without taking on another contract. However, if the Lakers were smart enough, they would have traded Dwight Howard during last season, especially when he was unhappy in February because he was on his usual mood swing.
Three questions that I have for my own team:
1. Will you attempt to play defense, Los Angeles?
When you see this roster, you can tell that it fits Mike D’Antoni system. They’ll get up and down the court, and score 105 a game, but they’ll probably give up 110. Steve Nash is the starting point guard and he’ll be 40 during the NBA season. That’s not a typo. Steve Nash playing defense on Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio, Tony Parker, and even Brandon Jennings will be seen as a highlight film for those guys. Remember when Curry put Nash in the washing machine spin cycle back in March?
Nick Young has never heard of the word defense before (but he’s heard of swag since he’s SWAGGY P, BRUH!), and watching him play defense will be mildly entertaining because he’ll just let other two guards score so he can shoot more. Jodie Meeks? Lol. A frontcourt line of Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol, and wait for it…… Wes Johnson will be hilarious. Given this is the first (and only) training camp with Mike D’Antoni as a head coach, maybe they did work on simple defensive concepts.
2. Will Kobe Bryant be effective this season?
No one, and I mean no one knows what to expect from Kobe Bryant. Bryant just tore his Achilles in April, and has said that if this were a playoff situation, he’d be able to play. But then he added that he can’t push off his Achilles and that he’s not in shape. Which makes me believe that Kobe Bryant probably won’t be back for awhile. It’s completely obvious that the Lakers can’t just rely on Kobe to come back and carry them for most of the season like he did last year. But this is Kobe Bryant, and he’s been known to do the unthinkable.
3. But really, do the Lakers have a long-term plan in place?
I know, I know. I addressed this above. But it’s an interesting question to ask. Kobe can’t play forever, and I know the Lakers know this. At some point, you have a solution to the problem. Mike D’Antoni isn’t the right fit for the organization, but neither is Phil Jackson anymore. Are you going to place all your chips in hope of landing Carmelo Anthony this summer, or do you go full rebuild mode? These are questions that the front office will need to answer quickly.
All off-season long, I’ve been saying how the Lakers won’t make the playoffs, and as a fan……. I’m not changing my mind. Looking at the roster, it’s clear to me that the Lakers built the roster to D’Antoni’s system. That’s fine to a degree. With everyone off the roster after this season with the exception of Steve Nash, it’s clear that Lakers are going to go all in the summer of 2014. I’ve been saying this, it’s best for the Lakers to completely forget about this season, and start from scratch next year, in hopefully Kobe Bryant’s last season of hooping (Yes Laker fans, Kobe is going to retire soon). Do I think the Lakers will actually do that? Will they miss the playoffs for the 6th time in franchise history?
I think the ceiling for this team is 35-38 wins. They’ll be exciting to watch because they’ll score 100+ points a game, and because Nick Young is probably going to go full YOLO mode. But they’ll give up a lot a big games to guards, and give up at least 105+ points a game. So no playoffs. A lottery pick, and a semi-rebuilding project heading into the Summer of 2014.
It’s not the end of the world, Laker fans. All franchises have to rebuild. It’s how you reload. And we must pray that the Los Angeles Lakers front office knows what the hell they’re doing.
Thoughts? Leave a comment or tweet me at @kingshaundiz