Posts Tagged ‘lebron’

#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.

What Has to Happen for The Lakers to be a Championship Contender? (#Lakeshow #LakersNation #NBA #Lakers)

September 14, 2018

When Lebron James signed on the dotted line, expectations jumped instantaneously for these Lakers who showed massive promise in their 2017-2018 season. When you have the greatest player in the world, anything less than a finals appearance is a failure. Lebron James has historically been able to be that game-changer that transforms a team, and he has been known to drag any team kicking and screaming into the finals as he did with the last Cleveland team. This team featured multiple roster changes and eventually left him with a mashup of unproven kids and veterans that were still finding their way with the team. They made the finals. We all know what Lebron is capable of, but in order for this supporting cast of Lakers to be special, let’s discuss what has to happen.

Lonzo Ball has to hit shots. Lonzo Ball’s shooting issues made headline news last season and brought his awkward shooting form into question. Bad shooting and all, Zo was tops in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. However, in order for the Lakers to be a threat in the Western Conference, Zo’s new tweaked shooting form has to pay dividends. Furthermore, Lonzo will have to use his height and attack the basket. Long story short, he has to be an actual threat to score. This will keep defenses honest and with Lebron waiting down low or on the perimeter, the Lakers will be dangerous. This will also open up the other shooters. So what we asking for is for Zo to make that same leap that Brandon Ingram a season ago.

Kuzma cannot hit a sophomore slump. Kuzmania took the NBA world by storm last season. The kid can shoot from anywhere, has an array of shots and has no fear. He even dropped 30 on the Thibideau-led defensive minded Timberwolves last season. He’s an automatic scorer and has quickly become the Lakers “next in line” star. Kuzma has to make yet another significant jump in scoring options and defensive ability. There can be no kind of a sophomore slump. The Lakers need him to continue to improve dramatically as he could easily be Lebron’s right hand man and or his favorite target for a drive and kick. This is a huge year for Kuzma who, in my eyes, still has something to prove.

Brandon Ingram must have break out year. I know, I know. Why so tough on B.I? Brandon Ingram made a significant jump from averaging just 9 points game to averaging 16 points a game. At times he looked like the Alpha Male of the team. It’s almost a forgone conclusion that Brandon Ingram starts alongside Lebron James this season. This means that he is charged with being the Durant to Lebron’s Curry. I expect Ingram to jump another 9 points per, averaging 23 points a game. He must take this season by the reins and break out. He needs to have the ability to take over a game, making Lebron James that much more dangerous. Teams need to have to worry about him.

Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell Pope need to be 3 and D monsters. With KCP leading in the starting shooting guard vote at the moment, Josh Hart is clearly jockeying for that position. Either way, the Lakers possess two players that need to become that player you love to hate. They cannot be left alone or they will light it up from three. They also will take on the opposing team’s best player and lock them down on defense. Expect steals and transition layups or threes from these two.

The newly acquired veterans need to be specialists. Rajon Rondo needs to be a pest on defense and throw players like Curry off of their game. He needs to be able to break down defenses to set up open looks for other players. Michael Beasley needs to effectively create his own shot and be a menace in the post. JaVale McGee needs to patrol the paint and keep offenses afraid to come into his house. Lance Stephenson needs to stay in control and attack the basket, as well as be a physical defender.

The Lakers have a very young core and some veterans that can support but not takeover a game. This can easily go either way, depending on the factors that I’ve discussed. In order for this team to flourish, we’re asking for a coming of age for the young core. We’re asking for the veterans to be specialists and good at what they do. We’re asking for chemistry to develop early. The Lakers have gotten their much needed superstar. We need for another star to emerge and for role players to be effective. Do I think this can happen?

Of course! I’m the Lakers Optimist.

Against the Grain: Magic and Rob’s Plan to Beat Golden State

July 11, 2018

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What the heck is Magic and Rob doing?! Calm down, folks. I should be a little upset that a few writers have beaten me to the punch; however, I still find it necessary to throw my 2 cents in. The Lakers became a legitimate threat with one massive move, signing LeBron James. Adding such a player to a team that had made a 9 game jump to 35-47, insures that the Lakers are now a force in the NBA…on paper. Having made such a power move, the Lakers know that when you bring a superstar such as LeBron James, the “championship or failure” mentality rings louder than ever. No disrespect to the rest of the league, but standing in the way of a 9th finals appearance for King James and Showtime 2.0 is the Golden State Warriors.

Pundits and sports “experts” have consistently balked at the idea of signing players such as Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee, highlighting their inability to consistently hit the 3 point shot. Why? Because you’re trying to beat the Golden State Warriors so, obviously you need shooters. LeBron James needs shooters right? All he needs to do is drive, draw and kick. The other guys will hit threes and you’ll outscore arguably the best backcourt in NBA history, KD and Draymond Green right?

Wrong!

Although Golden State is a much better defensive team than the 2004 Phoenix Suns made famous by Steve Nash, Mike D’antoni and company, teams that attempted to outrun that team were completely decimated. The team that was able to take down the run and gun was the San Antonio Spurs, who met them with the complete opposite in strong halfcourt play and physical defense. Wisely enough, the Spurs did not attempt to beat the Suns at their own game. Phil Jackson had actually attempted the same strategy, but didn’t have the personnel and ultimately fell after a 3-1 lead in 2006.

Let’s go back even further and look at the teams that gave the original Showtime Lakers fits. In the Lakers storied battles with the Boston Celtics, the Lakers brought the finesse and flashy basketball style while the Celtics were physical and focused mostly on defense. Although the Lakers got the last laugh in the late 80s, it is well documented that the Celtics did not try to beat the Lakers at their own game. The Lakers next big foe was the “Bad Boys” of Detroit who were also known for their physical play.  This Pistons team pushed the Lakers to the brink in 1988 and swept the Lakers in 1989. The strategy again was not to beat the Lakers at their own game.

Magic knows his basketball history and you have to believe that he has taken a long hard look at what it would take to compete with a team that prides itself on defending, running and shooting. Magic and Rob both know that you cannot beat Golden State and their own game. Magic also knows that physical teams have had some success against a team like Golden State. The problem has been, you still have to make baskets and you still have to have the personnel that could carry out such a task. Does this mean the Lakers now want to beat up Steph Curry and company and draw technical fouls? Of course not. However, a team that is capable of keeping a body on a player, staying in their jersey and making the offense feel you, willing to take a foul rather than give up on open layup and muddy up the game for the opponent creates problems for a team like Golden State. The players they’ve added, including resigning Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are designed to create this level of toughness and defensive prowess. The Lakers already possess developing defenders in Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

Is this fool proof? Is this the personnel to carry it out? Only time will tell. However, the Lakers brass know they have the firepower to put a bunch of points on the board. Let’s not forget the Lakers do in fact have scorers. They also possess long athletic guys who can create and get to the basket, as well as playmakers. They didn’t completely jettison the idea of having offensive weapons to be the Memphis Grizzlies by any stretch. The Lakers still intend to defend, rebound and run and have the players that can make this happen. We saw that last season. Being able to make things uncomfortable for the defending champs on the defensive end, in addition to the offensive skillset, can hopefully give them a fighting chance as they try to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Los Angeles (and I don’t mean to the Clippers either).

So get used to all the articles and sports network personalities having a field day and asking if Magic and company screwed up by their recent signings. The Lakers know exactly what their doing — creating a championship contender.

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?