Four burning questions: What’s wrong with the Lakers?
The high-profile Hollywood experiment in Laker land has been anything but glamourous during the season’s first month.
Los Angeles, and its star-studded but disjointed cast, has stumbled out to a 9-10 record, backing up each disappointing loss with another internal storyline.
What’s gone wrong? Can it be fixed? How does it affect the Thunder? We asked our experts:
1. What’s the biggest reason for the slow start?
Darnell Mayberry (beat writer) - Too much talent and not enough leadership. Steve Nash is the best leader on that team. And he’s injured. Kobe Bryant rarely has been a great team leader. Dwight Howard seems to like having fun more than leading. Pau Gasol doesn’t fit the description. And don’t get me started on Metta World Peace. Mike D’Antoni walked into a tough situation in which team chemistry just doesn’t appear to be there. Not to mention he’s now trying to get players to play his system rather than adapt to them, meaning he might be as much a part of the problem as anyone else.
John Rohde (beat writer) - Pau Gasol’s health and confidence. He needs to start burying mid-range jumpers. He’s a career 52-percent shooter who is shooting 42 percent and has tendinitis in his knees. That’s not a good combination.
Berry Tramel (columnist) - The Lakers’ biggest problem is a total lack of continuity. Let’s see. They’ve had three coaches already this season. Brown, Bickerstaff, D’Antoni. They’ve got a brand new point guard, who lasted two games before getting injured. They’ve got a new superstar center who has to figure out how to play with the all-star center who has been having to play power forward. They’ve got new role players. And they’ve got Kobe Bryant looking around, saying, where am I and what has happened? Until the Lakers find some continuity, we’ll have no idea how they can play, other than poorly.
Anthony Slater (sports blogger) - Cohesion. You guys mentioned it. Three coaches with entirely different systems. Three starters (Nash/Howard/Gasol) with lingering health issues. And one star (Kobe) who’s leadership ploys include calling you out in the media and giving you the death stare after innocent mistakes. It’s been a bad fit made worse by bad breaks.
2. Do you see the issues getting fixed?
Mayberry - Some of the on-court issues will get ironed out. How? Simple. Time. The Lakers need time to establish chemistry and rhythm. Because of Mike Brown’s firing, this current staff is coaching on the fly, without the benefit of a full training camp and now limited practice time. You can’t expect things to be a work of art right now. As for the long term health of some of L.A.’s players, well that’s another issue.
Rohde - Steve Nash returning from his leg injury will be huge, but it primarily revolves around Gasol. If things don’t change with him pronto, one of those famous Pau Gasol trades might actually happen and the Lakers would still be scary with the right complement of role players. Imagine stretch-4 Ryan Anderson with the Lakers. Now that’s scary.
Tramel - I think it’s a longshot, just because of age and square peg/round hole issues. Does Nash have the weapons to run D’Antoni’s offense? Does Kobe fit in the D’Antoni offense? We know Gasol doesn’t fit in the D’Antoni offense. It’s a mess.
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