The Lakers and Their Problems
By: Steve Rawnsley
The Lakers have not even been close in either of their three games so far. The Lakers are always in the headlines, and now is not any exception. Those headlines will always make fans too high one game, and then the next game push the panic button. At 0-3, people are pushing that panic button, but the question becomes should they be pushing that button?
Short answer is yes, and no. First, the Lakers are just too talented at the top to not turn this around. Now, is Kobe the MVP Kobe anymore? No, but he is still a great player. Pau Gasol is the most skilled big man in the game today. No big has the IQ, or passing ability that Gasol has. Dwight Howard is the most athletic big man in the game today. Steve Nash, is probably the fourth wheel on that team. (Think about that for a second.) These guys are too smart and too talented to not fix this.
Now, if I was a bandwagon Lakers fan, I would be very concerned about a few things. The fist thing that stands out is Steve Nash. He is not the MVP anymore, no doubt. However, he is still a great PG. The question is does he fit in the Princeton offense? The PG handles the ball more than any other position, and Nash is no exception. Nobody dribbles more than Nash does. However, in the hybrid Princeton offense, the PG does not handle it as much. It is similar to the triangle. Look back throughout Phil Jackson’s teams, and they never had a ball dominant PG. The Kings ran a similar offense through Chris Webber in their heyday. Is Nash a great fit for this, and can he get healthy?
Nash got hurt in the game against Portland in the second quarter and did not return. Now, the injury is not considered serious, and is listed day to day with a contusion. However, injuries are a part of the game. Who do the Lakers go to when injuries happen?
Look at the minutes distribution against the Blazers, and you would have thought it was a playoff game. Dwight Howard played 41 minutes, Kobe played 38 minutes, and Gasol played 40 minutes. On top of that, this was the second game of a back-to-back where they traveled overnight. Kobe is an old 33 years old. He came out after high school, and goes deep in the playoffs every year, and he did not get the summer off playing in the Olympics. Gasol is 32 years old, and just like Kobe has some deep playoff runs under his belt, and played in the Olympics. For the whole offseason, and most of training camp, the story was Dwight was not ready to return due to offseason surgery on his back. The minutes distribution was close to this against the Mavericks on opening night. Playing guys for 40 minutes is a recipe for disaster, especially at their ages. However, who do the Lakers go to?
The biggest concern of all is the bench. When these guys get less minutes, who gets more minutes? Jamison is still a solid piece off the bench, but who else do they have? Steve Blake has taken a step back since he signed with the Lakers. You really want to rely on Devin Ebanks then? Jodie Meeks is the next option? To say that the Lakers are paper thin might give their bench too much credit. (On the flip side, the Lakers will be on the receiving end of waiver wire pickups, but they were waived from their previous team for a reason.)
The Lakers are still a title contender. The season is a marathon. For three games to change your opinion on them as a title contender, would be like giving up on a marathon after running the first 100 meters. However, there are some major holes that need to be addressed.