Archive for the ‘nba 2018-2019’ Category

#Lakers Never Intended to Dominate This Season: Be of Good Cheer #LakersNation

March 26, 2019

Be of good cheer, LakersNation! The Lakers never intended to win a championship this year. It’s been noted that a 3 year plan was the goal. Needless to say, the Lakers fans should “trust the…” Okay I won’t say it. However, when LeBron James signed on the dotted line, Lakers fans saw parade streamers immediately; however, that’s not entirely what LeBron and Maginka had in mind. It does come as a shock that this team would not at least make the playoffs, but it does not derail the overall goal.

Let’s relive this dream-turned-nightmare season…

The Lakers jumped out to a dismal 2-5 start. However, they quickly began to hit their stride going on a run that would place them in 4th place. This run was punctuated by a rout of the champion Golden State Warriors.

Then LeBron got hurt. LeBron’s 17 game injury was exacerbated by accompanying injuries to multiple key players at a time including JaVale McGee, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo and later Lonzo Ball. The Lakers tumbled out of the playoff race.

Then came the trade deadline. Lakers failed to keep their outrageous trade offers to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis out of the press. This caused the already descending morale of the remaining Lakers being depended on to shoulder the burden in Bron’s absence to drop even more. The Lakers sputtered into the all-star break in spite of LeBron’s return.

In spite of LeBron’s attempt to activate playoff LeBron, the Lakers never returned to the pre-injury form. The Lakers looked ordinary and downright pathetic at times and continued to plummet in the standings. The Lakers in a few months went from discussing playoff seeding to discussing draft lottery position.

So where’s the optimism?

Being bounced from playoff contention was never the goal; however, neither was winning a championship as is. In Maginka’s first season, they drafted well and then proceeded to clear cap space to make room for LeBron James, which they drafted in year two. Although one can find fault with the types of players and personalities brought in, the Lakers managed to get ahold to five players on 1-year deals. If you make a deep run, fine. If you don’t, these players fall off your books. Everyone knows the Lakers intended on maintaining cap space to add yet another star to pair with LeBron James in the next off-season. Now they have the money to do so. This still leaves them with the ability to keep their young core of Kuzma, Ball and Ingram — if they aren’t dead set on trading them. Furthermore, the Lakers now can focus on filling these spots with long-term deals with quality role players.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Lakers are possibly pulling a low-key tank move after losing some very embarrassing games, save their recent five game losing streak snapping victory over the Kings. It is quite plausible that the Lakers package a possible high draft pick and other picks for another quality player. The question becomes whether or not they part with any of the young core.

Needless to say, the Lakers head into the off-season in a position to make good on their three-year plan to become the dynasty we’re used to seeing. There are a few questions however. Nobody knows the fate of coach Luke Walton who obviously got forced into an unfair situation and may have coached his final season with the Lakers. Also a question mark is who of the young core will not make it into the new season without being traded. Lastly, one can only hope that Maginka has learned to do better with maintaining the morale of their team, that Magic can learn to minimize the micromanaging and that LeBron, Ingram and Ball can actually stay healthy for a full season.

So be of good cheer, LakersNation. The Lakers will return to that familiar place of dominance and the faithful fans will be rewarded for their loyalty.

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Lakers Optimist Facts: JaVale’s Resurgence, Lakers Recent Winning Streak and What the Addition of Tyson Chandler Means (@LakersNation #Lakeshow #NBA #Lakersnation #Lakers)

November 13, 2018

The smoke has all cleared and the new NBA season is well underway. As teams are still figuring out where they stand in this extremely competitive league, teams like the Wizards are struggling, the T-Wolves had to trade a kicking and screaming Jimmy Butler and the Cavaliers are getting used to rock bottom all over again. The Lakers themselves are still finding their way. After a lackluster yet somewhat expected 0-3 start, the Lakers have gone 7-3 and are currently on a 3 game winning streak. Within those wins are a gutsy win over a relentless T-Wolves team, a blowout of the hot starting Kings and an ugly squeaker over a hapless yet scrappy young Hawks team. Let’s take a look at a few Lakers Optimist facts we’ve learned from the young season.

Lebron James is as good as advertised. LBJ is averaging just about 26 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Free throw and three-point inconsistencies aside, he is truly doing what we expected him to do. He has done a much better job taking over games of late although it’s asking too much to request a “Mamba Mentality” from King James. That being said, Lebron has done an excellent job of not stunting the growth of the young Lakers. In fact, it seems the young Lakers have benefited greatly. Kuzma having to do less dribbling now finds himself scoring much more in the painted area due to James’ ability to find him. He has also set up Ingram and JaVale McGree, giving them easy points.

JaVale McGee is the surprise of the season. For perspective, JaVale McGee averaged 4.8 points, 0.9 blocks and 2 rebounds in 9.5 minutes a game in Golden State just last season. JaVale was to be a serviceable big man for the Lakers and didn’t garner much excitement from his veterans minimum signing. 13 games in, JaVale McGee is averaging 13.7 points, 3 blocks and 7 rebounds in 25.8 minutes and vying for Defensive Player of the Year. He seamlessly fit right in with the Lakers offense, anchoring the defense, running the floor and finishing the break with resounding dunks.  Grant it, if given the minutes, perhaps he would have put forth the same effort in the Bay Area. Either way, he is more than a pleasant surprise and is a major reason why the Lakers can at times be very formidable on the defensive end.

Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson are doing what we expected. Rajon Rondo has given the Lakers a solid boost off the bench and has done a great job closing games as well, providing a veteran presence on both ends of the floor. He is giving the Lakers 9 points, just under 7 assists and 1 steal per. His ability to survey the floor and find the open man has created a calming affect for the team. Coming off the bench, this assures there is no drop off in ball movement when Zo, Bron or Ingram sit. Lance Stephenson has no doubt brought the Lakeshow to new heights with his celebrations; however, it’s not just for show as he puts up just under 9 points a game. Many of those points come during crunch time. Needless to say, these vets have become excellent supporting cast members and will pay even more dividends should the Lakers make the playoffs.

Josh Hart keeps getting better and KCP keeps falling. At the beginning of the season there was much debate over who should start at shooting guard between Josh Hart and KCP. Well, at the moment they both come of the bench. However, Josh Hart has gone from just under 8 points a game last year to just under 12 points per to go along with 1.7 steals. Conversely, KCP dropped from 13.4 points a game last year to 6.4 points per to go with 0.5 steals. He has quickly become somewhat of a forgotten man. Although he still provides great team defense, he is shooting a miserable 39% and an even more dismal 28% from behind arc. The question is whether or not Lonzo Ball swapped shooting skills with KCP when he wasn’t looking. Needless to say KCP is quite the disappointment. But as a streaky shooter, one can only hope that this is just an aberration and he will hit his stride at just the right time this season. Josh Hart however, is shooting 45% from the field and 40% from the three point line. This story-line may be only beginning but at the moment Josh Hart is being exactly what the Lakers wanted KCP to be.

Tyson Chandler, the missing piece? The Lakers at 4-6 were noticeably lacking interior defense and rebounding as they would often go small whenever JaVale McGee would take a breather. The other teams would immediately take advantage. The Lakers had one unproven rookie in Wagner and a 3-year veteran who still struggles to find himself in Zubac. John Williams gave his all but the height still was a glaring issue. Enter Tyson Chandler. Chandler’s signing immediately grabbed my attention before he made his first appearance as a Laker. He possesses great defensive instincts, a big body in the paint, excellent rebounding ability and championship experience. Albeit a short sample size, the Lakers are 3-0 with Chandler in the lineup. Chandler promises continuity in defense and rebounding with McGee sitting, a 7-footer always on the floor and a closer in the 4th. Chandler has had a game winning tip/rebound and a game winning block over these three games. The Lakers in the last few games gave up 100 per game after giving up an average of 120 points per in the first 10 games. So is Tyson Chandler the missing piece? Let’s check back in about 10 games, but it looks like the Lakers have addressed a glaring issue early in the season.

The Lakers lack killer instinct. For stretches the Lakers look like a juggernaut of a team that will run up the score and win by like 30 points. However, after getting the lead up to 15 or 20, they begin the cruise. Only against Phoenix and Sacramento did they manage to keep the score a respectable blowout. The Lakers clearly need to work on two things: 1. Taking advantage of teams they know they can beat and not losing interest. 2. Putting teams away when they have them on the ropes. Body language is everything as you can see the Lakers against Dallas and Atlanta just going to through the motions. After getting up by 15 on Atlanta you can see them start to slow it down and get out of their offensive strategy and get lax on defense. The Lakers will need to find that mojo and really start to develop a reputation for NOT giving teams a way back into games. Too early, the Lakers feel they can flip the switch when they have NOTHING to base that on as they only sit at 7-6.

It appears that the Lakers have begun to slowly turn a corner for the last three games. However, there are NO DAYS OFF as Portland comes to town Wednesday and will be seeking revenge. Portland is 10-3, yet the Lakers truly are not their record. They hope to continue to prove that in this coming game.

Stay tuned, Lakersnation!

 

Humble Beginnings… Explaining the Lakers’ Slow Start and Why There’s No Need to Worry (@LakersNation #Lakers #LakeShow #LakersNation)

October 24, 2018

 

Hype, hype and more hype surrounds the opening tip of the 2018-2019 Lakers season. We have LeBron James. Let it sink in. We have LeBron James. So therefore, look for the Lakers to steam roll through the league into the playoffs to tangle with the beast of the West Golden State. Right?

Wrong!

The Lakers have had three of the most exciting LOSSES ever, featuring alley-oops, fights, blocks, pretty passes and some of the most fluid transition buckets ever witnessed. For stretches they look like they’ve figured it out. Then the buzzer sounds. Lakers lose. Then the buzzer sounds again. Lakers lose again. Finally, the buzzer sounds a third time. In spite of a spirited comeback, a LeBron James buzzer beater clangs the rim…and Lakers lost a third time. Lakers are 0-3.

First question. Lakers Optimist are you worried? Nope. In spite of the fact that teams like the Toronto Raptors have seamlessly incorporated their new stars en route to early success, the Lakers still have that learning curve to figure out with the new guys. The Lakers know exactly who they are and exactly what they want to do. Furthermore they know that in the open court nobody can stop them. This is why they have, in spite of shooting atrociously from three, become a top 3 in the league in points in the paint and still manage to put up 119, 115 and 142 in each of their 3 games. I expect the Lakers to figure it out and begin to be the Western Conference juggernaut everyone expects them be.

Second question. Figure WHAT out? There have been several different discussions on exactly what is keeping the Lakers from wins in these opening games. Aside from two fourth quarter meltdowns and a late minute choke against the Spurs, the Lakers have been in these games and downright dominant at times. However, by the numbers, the Lakers have given up 128, 124 and 143. You can say all you want about the rest of the league, but the Lakers need to be concerned about their defense. The biggest problem area is the team’s three point defense. The Lakers allowed Portland to make 13 three pointers at a 35% clip. That’s 39 points. With the Lakers losing by 9, take away half of those shots and the Lakers win. The Rockets shot 38%, nailing 16 three pointers. 48 points. Again, they lost by 9. Take away half of those shots, Lakers may win by 5. The Spurs shot a blistering 53% from behind the arc, hitting 15 threes! The Lakers lost by 1 point. A couple of those threes were given up in that improbable last minute Spur comeback. The Lakers have been supremely suspect in their three point defense, daring the team to beat them from behind the arc and teams are doing it. Conversely, teams are daring the Lakers to beat them from the behind the arc and the Lakers are failing to capitalize. Don’t get it twisted though, the blame does not fall on the Lakers three point shooting. It falls of their three point defense.

The Lakers have been getting outglassed routinely, with the exception of the Spurs game. In the first two games they were outrebounded by an average of 12 rebounds. Even more demoralizing is how they’ve surrendered 14 offensive boards to Portland, 13 to Houston and 10 to San Antonio. Even as they are getting stops, they are giving teams second chances.

So why, Lakers Optimist, are you not worried? I feel that both of these are easy fixes. The Lakers possess the athleticism, height and ability to switch 1 to 5 on defense and to rebound by committee. The Lakers have seemed to get somewhat confused or lazy on their rotations which results in the open looks that players like Nik Stauskas and Brynn Forbes were hitting with ease. The Lakers need to buy in to contesting every shot. If the Lakers can keep teams to less than 29% from behind the arc AND secure the rebound they will be in these games. The Lakers without JaVale McGee get killed on the glass. Incorporating a dog on the glass like Johnathan Williams will surely help with that issue when McGee is taking a breather.

Only three games in, I expect the Lakers to quickly move up the learning curve, especially when you consider that they won’t be matching up against top 3 teams all season long. Sometimes it takes a lesser talented team to help a team hit their stride. Look for the Lakers to finally notch their first win against Booker, Ayton and the Suns tonight. As they start to figure out defense, they will begin to round into form.