Posts Tagged ‘kobe’

“I’m Magic Johnson” – Lakers Sign LeBron James… Is Showtime Back?

July 4, 2018

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When Magic Johnson took over and Rob Pelinka joined his side, Jeannie Buss had completely transformed the Lakers regime. Fast forward to a few days ago. The Lakers managed to secure a massive amount of cap space and develop an exciting young core and determined to use both to bring in what the Lakers have lacked since Kobe Bryant sang his swan song 2 seasons ago — a superstar. As the media sharks circled around Magic Johnson, they asked him if he felt any pressure to which he replied among other things… “I’m Magic Johnson.”

In a matter of days social media was flooded with the jubilant news that LeBron James, yes THE LeBron James had agreed to a 4-year 154 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers did it. Magic and Rob did it. They brought the greatest player in the world to Los Angeles. The organization used to having the best of the best once again had the best of the best. Not finished, the Lakers resigned Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and then added veterans Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo — all 1-year contracts. We would be remiss not to highlight the genius in that point. As we are never to finish an off-season without casualties, the Lakers were not able to keep Julius Randle. He requested to be renounced to unrestricted free agency and was snatched up by the New Orleans Pelicans. With all these roster moves being made and still (at press-time) maintaining the bulk of their young core, what can we expect from this current team?

Before we get deep into this, let’s establish that the Lakers are still in need of a center so they are not finished. Even so, we still have enough to discuss how this roster improved and the way this can be one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA.

James, KCP, Rondo, Stephenson and McGee and are all great long individual defenders. The Lakers already possess developing defenders in Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma (working on it), Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Although their defense has not yet been proven, the Lakers added more athletic length in Siatoslav Mykhailiuk, Isaac Bonga and Moritz Wagner. They also have additional undrafted players Malik Newman and Jeffrey Carroll. The Lakers now boast a roster full of guys that can play at least 2 – 3 positions on the court. Last season the Lakers became a top 10 defensive team due to their ability to switch on defense. With this many individual defenders and players with a high IQ, the Lakers will rarely have to double team any one player and should have very little trouble with defensive rotations.

The Lakers pride themselves on pace, space, ball movement and paint. The Lakers were atop the league in points in the paint. Although Randle scored a large portion of those points, let’s just say we traded Randle for James. The Lakers now boast great passers in Lonzo Ball, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. At times, Brandon Ingram is also a great passer. At all times the Lakers will have a general who can get and keep the ball moving. Both LeBron and Rondo have the ability to drive and kick and get to the basket and  break down defenses. Additionally, this team possesses a great many slashers who can break down defenses and either create points in the paint or set up open looks. These players include Ball, James, KCP, Rondo and Ingram. Lance Stephenson can also get to the basket and finish. Within an attack and high-pace offense, opposing teams really can’t relax as the Lakers do not intend to be in the half-court for too long. The way make a player like LeBron or even more deadly is to have guys that can knock down shots. Enter Kyle Kuzma, KCP, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Lance Stephenson and even Mortiz Wagner. These guys can hopefully be counted on to hit shots on passes from Rondo, Lonzo and James.

Can Luke mesh all these personalities together and make it work? Luke is actually a perfect fit. Having coached (in spite of people thinking even a cave man could do it) the Golden State Warriors, played with Kobe Bryant and coached a team full of young players and vets this past season, Luke Walton has shown the ability to manage people. He knows what he wants to do with a team and how it needs to be done. He also has the rings to back him up. Lastly, Luke has the respect of the players and a coaching staff that features former NBA Champion Brian Shaw. With a focus on defense, rebounding and pushing the tempo, Luke is chomping at the bit to be able to apply this exciting brand of basketball to such a talented group.

With such a deep and interchangeable roster full of savvy vets, Luke will have the luxury of keeping players minutes and keep players fresh. The young players will be less susceptible to injury, as well as the veterans. This is important as the rule still applies that the healthy team wins the championship. If this team stays healthy, you are easily looking at a top 5 seed in the West. Golden State may have pulled the heist of the century by adding Demarcus Cousins to an already stacked roster, but the Lakers stand reloaded and ready to make a strong case for the returning Kings of the West.

I hope you’ve become as excited as I am about the possible return of Showtime. Stay tuned. It’s only just begun, LakerNation!

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Brace Yourselves, @LakersNation — IT’S THE OFFSEASON!

June 21, 2018

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The Lakers managed to recapture their luster of old (okay, like 7 years ago) through a combination of talented and headline-grabbing young players, cap-space saving trades, smart coaching and a whole lot of Magic. And although they did not make the playoffs, they were legitimately competing for that eighth seed for much of the season. With the game viewed as a chess match, Magic and Rob focused on placing themselves in great position for the off-season where many game-changing superstars will be choosing their destinies. The Lakers brass freed up a massive amount of cap space and amassed an intriguing mix of youth and saavy veterans. With the off-season now in full swing, rumors are flying and both fans and media alike are entertaining several scenarios ranging from the Lakers returning to the 2018-19 campaign with a superteam down to the Lakers simply walking away empty-handed and returning with their current team (still a very strong team). Let’s take a look at a few of these possibilities briefly and determine their likelihood.

Perhaps the biggest watercooler discussion is that of LeBron James’ free agency. It doesn’t take much for the media to quickly link Lebron James to Los Angeles. His son is said to be enrolling in a school in the LA area. He has been rumored to see Los Angeles as his best opportunity for other business endeavors. So, is LeBron coming to the Lakers? Do fans want arguably the best player in the world? Regardless of what anyone feels about James (he’s a crybaby, he takes over an organization, he’s not as good as Jordan), one can’t say that he is not an instant upgrade and the Lakers are at least number 4 seed on paper. Many pundits feel that with James in, Ball goes out. That couldn’t be further from the truth. James, like Kobe, does not wish to be ball dominant. Players like James and Bryant actually covet the idea of playing with a pass first point guard, especially one who sets the table like Lonzo Ball does. So with James joining purple and gold, Ball is safe. The Lakers now have a go-to player, a willing defender, and a leader. One would then have to examine what kind of domino effect this will have in terms of pulling in other free agents like a Paul George who has already been considered a lock to don the purple and gold. Brook Lopez has already been reported to be willing to take less to play for the Lakers if they are a contender. Now, do you still try to resign Julius Randle? That depends on how much Julius wants and how saavy Magic and Rob are with their funds. Adding fuel to this fire is the prospect of the Lakers also trading for Kawhi Leonard to create a LeBron-PG-Kawhi superteam. There are several moving pieces surrounding these scenarios and look for the Lakers to leave no stone unturned.

The next big looming scenario is the signing of Paul George. Paul George who hails from Palmdale, CA has been very open about his desire to play for the Lakers. The Oklahoma City Thunder took a chance on a possible 1-year PG rental; however, OKC has not been completely written off. Lakers fans are salivating at the possibility of Paul George inking a deal with the Purple and Gold. I hear from sources that Paul George has all signs pointing to coming to Los Angeles. If Paul George is a lock to be a Laker, the Lakers then have added an offensive juggernaut and a great defender who would love to be on the receiving end of Lonzo Ball passes.  The Lakers are, in my opinion, one player away from being a contender with a budding star in Julius Randle and fast rising stars Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram. Paul George would be a game-changer.  The move would be an obvious one for the Lakers, but would signal a triumphant off-season nonetheless.

The latest wildcard scenario is the potential trading of Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi has now been said to want out of San Antonio. Other sources have indicated that he’d like to be traded to the Lakers. Pump the breaks! Poppovich has never been one to trade with Western Conference rivals and certainly not to make them better! San Antonio has been rumored to be waiting patiently before even considering trading the coveted forward, but are willing to hear offers. Two questions. One, do the Lakers possess an appetizing package to peak San Antonio’s interest? Two, do the Lakers really want to give up the moon and stars to land Kawhi when he is a free agent after next season? Additionally, is Kawhi healthy? What kind of player are we in fact trading for? Who’s on the table? As I mentioned earlier, I find that Ball is off the table; however, Kuzma and Ingram are distinct possibilities because they are both forwards and Kawhi is like having Ingram at full potential now. Plus, this would be probably the strongest package the Lakers can submit without completely killing their core. Do I think it’s worth it? Not so sure yet. If the Lakers can successfully trade for Kawhi without completely breaking up the young core and are willing to deal with the 1-year rental situation; then they will definitely be getting the off-season off on the right foot.

Our last scenario is the possibility that the Lakers have a very strong team already. Supposing they do strike out on LeBron and PG, we have to consider what’s in front of them. At the present time, the Lakers have the following major free agents: Julius Randle, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Isaiah Thomas and Brook Lopez. Julius Randle has become a force to be reckoned with offensively and will be a highly coveted free agent. KCP is a deadly shooter when he’s on and has proven to be a lockdown defender, something the Lakers definitely need to keep. Isaiah Thomas averaged about 28 per only a season ago and was only limited by injuries. With a successful surgery complete and being officially pain free, one can’t help but to expect IT to pick up right where he left off. A crafty scorer, deadeye three-point shooter and excellent passer, Isaiah Thomas is the star the Lakers have right under their nose. Remember, he actually wants to be a Laker. Brook Lopez is arguably the strongest big man the Lakers have had since Pau Gasol. As I said in a previous blog, the question is which one of these players if not all do they want to keep. And how long will these players wait as the Lakers first attempt to shoot for the moon with the likes of Paul George and LeBron James?

There are plenty of scenarios that could play out this summer and as always, all eyes are on the Lakers. The Lakers have already begun by trading for an additional draft pick, securing the 25th, 39th and 47th pick in this year’s loaded draft class. Will there be more moves made?

Stay tuned, LakersNation! As Kyle Kuzma tweeted, its gonna be interesting…

 

 

Lakers WILL Do Better Than Last Year: Sick of the Laker-haters Talking

August 23, 2013

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I am not a delusional fan. Rather I think everyone else is quite delusional. I think the media and the NBA world is full of Laker-haters. These Laker-haters complain when the Lakers are on top and are beside themselves in happiness when we are at the bottom…rarely. So in the off-season following a disappointing season everybody has a bunch of nonsensical predictions for this Laker season based on a laughable LACK OF FACTS.

First of all, last season was a flop for reasons that hold no proof that this year would be a flop! Injuries to several stars throughout the season kept Lakers from chemistry and the expected success. They finished the season with a 28-12 run and played the Spurs without Bryant, Nash (really shouldn’t have played at all), Meeks, Peace nor Blake in uniform. Based on that, Lakers suck this year? That makes sense.

Howard is not coming back so Lakers will suck based on what comparison? Well if you’re going to say they need Howard to be successful you have to show me a season where they were successful with Howard! All you have is last year. Howard was playing injured, not really working with D’antoni nor buying into his offensive system and failing to take over the reins in the playoffs when it all fell on Him. So he’s gone and therefore we are worse? Yeah, that makes no sense.

The rest of the West is too tough. Nope. Your top teams in the West consist of OKC who basically peaked when they reached the finals against Heat. The status of Westbrook is unknown. This team will be good, but not great. They still lack inside presence which the Lakers still have the advantage and more, picking up young quick players that can keep up even better than previous seasons. Then you have the Spurs who’s core is getting older, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. They did NOTHING to improve in the off-season. I don’t see them as invincible. Denver and Memphis lost their coach and have improved on anything in the off-season. Golden State is an experiment. Last year they were in the bottom half so now you’re just guessing Western Conference supremacy. I’ll give you the Clippers based on talent, but Lakers have potential to be as high as the 5th spot and WILL make the playoffs.

Everybody keeps talking about what the Lakers DON’T have. I give you the fact that we don’t know what kind of Kobe we are going to get. But let me tell you what the Lakers do have. D’antoni still one of the best offensive minds in the league, redefining the game with his run and gun offense. He created stars in Phoenix that really were not stars anywhere else since. So what happened in NY? Carmelo happened in NY. If you’re players don’t buy into what you’re selling, as a coach you’re wasting your breath. Last year, Howard would not run pick and roll with Nash. He just wanted the ball dumped in the post which resulted in forced entry passes that caused turnovers and predictable offense that caused even more turnovers. D’antoni has young quick players that respect his offense and players like Gasol, Nash and Bryant that are willing to buy into his system. If you’re concerned about D’antoni and defense, he is too! He has publicly stated this and has also enlisted Kurt Rambis as one of his assistant coaches. Pay attention folks!!!

Everybody is concerned about big names. Lakers already have big names, first of all. Secondly, every wise addition to the Lakers addressed every position that was previously lacking and also addressed the lack of athleticism and youth. They got younger and faster overnight! These players will be cogs in D’antoni’s system. D’antoni’s system does not need STARS. So that argument falls flat.

I’m not saying the Lakers are a championship contender. But I am saying that you can’t say that they are NOT by looking that the facts that the Laker-hater media (don’t listen to Charles Barkley!!) and delusional, YES delusional Laker-hater fans are using. This team will compete, will make the playoffs and then it’s anybody’s guess. Matchups, skill and luck come into play and things happen. So no I’m not putting this season away and hoping for Lebron or Melo to come to LA next year. I’m expecting a great season filled with Lakers that WANT TO BE THERE, have revenge on their mind, led by one of the greatest players that ever did it and are buying into what D’antoni is selling. This is the Lakers and the standard is high. By the way, making them the underdogs is only more motivation. Last year they were champions on paper, so we know that argument means nothing right?

The Lakers Return to Familiar Place Hoping that History Does Not “Magically” Repeat Itself

June 3, 2009
Kobe's Lakers and Dwight Howard's Magic meet in the 2009 NBA Finals

Kobe's Lakers and Dwight Howard's Magic meet in the 2009 NBA Finals

Welcome back to the finals, Lakers!

This finals has the makings to be one of two outcomes.

Outcome one is the sigh of relief in the words of “finally!” for many of the young Lakers including those who experienced the heartbreaking and embarassing game 6 loss to Boston last year after getting where many did not expect them to be. The Lakers didn’t expect to get there either, cruising past the Western Conference only to run into a brick wall of defense and physicality by the name of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics consisted of three all-stars who had yet to taste the flavor of an NBA Championship and had a “win or fail” mentality. The Lakers consisted of a young team who seemed to have the mentality of “Wow! We’re here! Let’s win this, but if we don’t, we’ll get Bynum back next year!” And thus we all know what happened. Kobe‘s sigh of relief is the removal of that monkey on his back that he faced ever since he and Shaq parted ways– can he lead a team to an NBA Championship in the post-Shaq era? Not only that, Kobe would love to experience this once more, knowing that though they beat the odds of returning back to the finals following an NBA Finals defeat, returning a third year after losing…well… Odom and Gasol would love to redeem themselves and actually show up during these finals and grab that illusive ring for the first time. Phil Jackson would probably love to catch Red Auerbach and further solidify his place in the coaches Hall of Fame.

Outcome two is the painful repeat in what would be even more disappointing considering this team was picked to win it all from the outset of the season. First picked to win 70 games (almost), then picked on for lackluster games against poor teams and a playoff series that should have all but ended sooner. They would run into another brick wall, the same brick wall that the other puppet in the commercials – Lebron James and company ran into— Orlando Magic. They would go through the rigors of winning 60+ games and battling through to the finals only to lose again.

I say outcome two is unlikely!!!

Game On!

This will no doubt be a hard series at first, but I expect the Lakers to win for a few reasons. One, this Laker team is experienced and knows what it’s like to be in the finals and what’s more, to LOSE in the finals.

The Lakers remember this day...and should refuse to let that happen again.

The Lakers remember this day...and should refuse to let that happen again.

Any team, especially a GOOD one with pride will not let a 39 point game 6 elimination go unavenged. The aforementioned mentalities have now switched. It is now the Lakers who say “anything less than a championship is a failure” and will play as such. Game 6 in Denver showed a Laker team that was dedicated to smart offense and disciplined defense on the way to a sound 27 point elimination of Karl’s Nuggets. Two, the Lakers as opposed to the Cavs boast a stronger supporting cast including an all-star power forward in Pau Gasol. There is no “all you have to do is stop Kobe.” in this series. Speaking of stopping Kobe, after dealing with Shane Battier and Dhontay Jones in previous series, I see nobody who boasts a “slow Kobe down” individual defensive ability on the Orlando Magic. Double teams and wide open looks for his supporting cast should be expected. Three, the Lakers can be happy to be facing the Magic because now they have what they worked for all year — Homecourt advantage. This, if all else fails will be thier security blanket, especially for the bench. Four, the Lakers have battled some very physical teams en route to the finals in the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets. As far as I know, this Orlando Magic team is far from these teams in terms of physicality and do not possess the stifling defense of the Rockets. I said this before the Lakers faced Denver to point out that offensively, the Lake Show will be able to get whatever they want. I think this will also work to thier advantage.

Having said all that, what needs to happen for the Purple and Gold parade???

Andrew Bynum needs to live up to the hype in these finals. 

1. Defense is key! How do you defend Orlando? Orlando possesses the ability to three-point shoot you into oblivion and practically everybody on that team can shoot threes. If that doesn’t work, they have  Superman Dwight Howard. Perimeter defense is essential. Aside from Dwight, I don’t see a need to double-team anybody (even if Jameer Nelson does return). Thus, effective man-to-man coverage will insure that there is a hand in the face of anybody shooting a three pointer. They are bad enough when covered– don’t give them any open looks. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will be essential in slowing down Dwight Howard. I don’t expect Phil Jackson to use the double team as he used it sparingly on Yao Ming during the Houston series. Hassling the passers, denying Dwight the ball and hounding the shooters will keep Orlando from crushing you inside and dismantling you from the outside. Finally, Fisher, Farmar, Vujacic and Brown will have to step it up majorly if Jameer Nelson is inserted into the lineup. Another great point guard– ahhhhhhh!!!! The Lakers MUST– I SAY MUST PREVENT DRIBBLE PENETRATION! Keep in mind that, Orlando has a tendency to live and die by the three pointer. If you defend the shooters, they will DIE by it.

 2. Smart and Efficient Offense. Much like in Game 6 in Denver, the Lakers have to take thier time and run thier offense. They have to go inside out, utilizing Pau and Drew as much as possible. Once Pau (cause I don’t know if Drew can get hot just yet…let’s hope) gets going, he will demand the double team which will start opening up the perimeter. Of course you know they have to hit shots. If Ariza and company start draining shots, the Black Mamba can really takeover and now you have an offensive jaggernaut! Okay, I know, I know! Superman, Dwight, shot blocker, etc. It is IMPORTANT that the Lakers go at Dwight Howard offensively and force him to play defense. This could get him in foul trouble. Getting Dwight Howard two quick fouls in the first quarter can change the game tremendously. Now the Lakers can get anything they want inside and defensively they can guard the perimeter more effectively and force Orlando to depend on the three point shot.

3. Kobe does not go for 50! What that means is the other players must support Kobe. Odom is a very important component for the bench. He has to take care of business.

Both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol must be huge offensively and defensively.

Both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol must be huge offensively and defensively.

You may seen Odom inserted early if Hedo gets too much to handle defensively. But Odom has to be the one to attack the basket as well as Ariza. Speaking of Ariza, he needs to continue to be effective from three as well as slashing to the basket (my personal pick to become the next James Worthy). Gasol has to be that second scorer to force Orlando to decide who to double team. Equally important is Andrew Bynum. He needs to get effective offensively to make Dwight work. THIS IS THE BIG STAGE WHERE LEGENDS ARE MADE, DREW— WE NEED THE OLD DREW BACK! The bench which was basically non-existent in last year’s finals and much of the playoffs, HAS to be there. I know Shannon Brown will come to play (where did this dude come from. He’s on fire! good trade!). The bench must outplay Orlando’s bench. I believe we really need Sasha Vujacic to return back to “machine” status. If Kobe doesn’t have to carry his team for much of the game, the Lakers will eat Orlando up.

Trevor Ariza is the necessary spark the Lakers need in this series.

Trevor Ariza is the necessary spark the Lakers need in this series.

4. “No Mercy”. I believe that’s what Kobe told his team in Game 6 against Denver. Cleveland led this Magic team by as much as 23 and still couldn’t put them away. This Laker team is also notorious for that and we can’t forget the 24 point lead blown in Los Angeles against Boston last year. I know they won’t forget. The Lakers have to jump on Orlando early and maintain the lead. It’s very hard to play from behind especially against a three point shooting team. Those threes then become back-breakers!

OOPS! I ALMOST FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING– THE LAKERS WILL HAVE TO WIN GAME ONE!! The Lakers have not beaten Orlando all season long and a game 1 loss will no doubt get them thinking, much like against Boston. So it is IMPERATIVE that the Lakers get that monkey off of their back and win game one decisively to set the tone AND to take care of homecourt– it’s very hard to win in Orlando.  

This is going to be exciting even though they’ve already created the Lebron and Kobe puppets. Go ahead and add a Dwight Howard puppet to the mix. I expect this series to be over in 6. My previous predictions were as follows: Lakers over Jazz in 5 (correct), Lakers over Rockets in 5 (prior to the Yao injury which changed the course of the series- wrong, very wrong) and the Lakers over Denver in 6 (correct). Let’s hope I’m correct this time.

Alright Laker fans! It’s on!

ENJOY THE NBA FINALS!