Home > Uncategorized > The Lakers: Will Kobe Stabilize a Team That Goes Hot & Cold?

The Lakers: Will Kobe Stabilize a Team That Goes Hot & Cold?

I left my parent’s house about halftime, during The Lakers game last night at Staples Center vs. The Detroit Pistons (we were there to celebrate my wife’s birthday with our 2 girls). The game seemed to actually go Detroit’s way, from the beginning with The Lakers trying to scrap something together to keep the score within striking distance. But will this continue to be a recipe for success, or is it just a coin flip who ends up winning this regular season games? Yes, there needs to be preparation, effort, motivation, teamwork – all of those things. But is there a will to win? What is it that brings out an extra effort, an attitude of persevering through pressure, of making the best decisions to help the team win, whether that’s defensive effort and/or making a tough shot (or, better, a critical pass to an open teammate!)?

As we left, my mom said the funniest thing: “I never knew I could be such a fan of a guy who wears dreadlocks.” In addition to being a Lakers fan, I am a 49ers fan, and a Dodgers fan – it’s been very interesting to see how new players, like Jordan Hill, Colin Kaepernick and Yasiel Puig have captured the hearts of their respective teams fanbase! The common denominator is, of course, that they play with an exceptional level of passion! And excellence! They give 100% every moment of every game: That’s easy to enjoy! It’s so… unusual – these days. Just among NBA players, who does that? Consistently?  Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, James Harden, Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodola, Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Paul George, Kevin Garnett (perhaps) and very few others…

If we are to focus on a roster of guys that make up The Los Angeles Lakers squad this season, then it should be recognized that we have a group of guys who are humble enough to recognize they are being given a second chance – an opportunity to overcome the missed realizations of greatness they had hoped to showcase as rookies, which they never seemed to develop. Don’t get me wrong: I love the play of Pau Gasol, in his first years as a Lakers starter – but even he is struggling to gain a reputation back from the ashes of playing behind Dru & D12. Chris Kaman is an adequate player, a decent backup to Pau; but, to ever start in the NBA again is unrealistic. Jordan Hill makes our team click on all cylinders! His ability to adapt quickly to a pick-n-roll style of play that Mike D’Antoni tried to get an unwilling Dwight Howard to do last year is working out very well! 24 points, 17 rebounds last night? Way to go, Jordan Hill!

The consistency of Jodie Meeks as a scorer and a defender has been a beautiful thing! He wasn’t  consistent at either aspect of his game last year, and we needed him to be; but, this year he’s doing those things very well – and, I must admit, his dribbling has made it to adequate (and beyond?) as well! The new lease on life he has been given with a full training camp to integrate into D’Antoni’s system has done wonders for the team. Like Brandon Jennings for Detroit last night (23 points off 22 shots – yikes!), the offensive abilities of Nick Young & Wesley Johnson haven’t become clearly known – yet. Wes seems to play a reasonable defensive game, much like that of Shawne Williams; but his scoring is less than best. Williams is actually a better shooter, which has surprised me – but we need their presence on the court, especially on defense, at the Small Forward position. Meeks at Shooting Guard is working out well with Steve Blake running Point Guard duties in the absence of Steve Nash (and Jordan Farmar is possibly beginning to play better with more minutes – he was sure a catalyst for the team transitioning from the 3rd to 4th Quarters).

So, the question remains: What will The Lakers look to do when Kobe Bryant returns to build on the momentum, the consistency that has developed on the roster at some positions and not others? I assume The Black Mamba will come back to his role as our starting Shooting Guard, but what will that do to the team chemistry developed with Jodie Meeks playing that position so well and working together with Steve Blake so effectively? Might D’Antoni experiment with the idea of playing him at Small Forward? Might that help/hinder ACL concerns, in terms of keeping him out of harm’s way vs. opposing team’s key players – some days starting at Small Forward, others at Shooting Guard. It’s an interesting problem, but the biggest problem right now for The Lakers is playing consistently well enough to win 2 games in a row! They haven’t been able to do that yet. Not finishing well vs. The Memphis Grizzlies last Friday ruined the opportunity this past weekend of completing such a task, beating Detroit on Sunday night (last night). And now The Lakers are off until… Friday? They played so many games over a short period of time to start the season it is a bit weird to now have such a long break before their next game, isn’t it?

Winning 2 games in a row will not be easy this week, since the next game is against The Golden State Warriors at Staples Center – who beat us soundly the 2nd game of the year, after a great start to the season with a win over The Clippers! No, it’s highly unlikely that even with Kobe Bryant practicing with the team last Saturday, and throughout this week, that he will play – even if he did say that if it were a playoff game that he could play. Yeah, if anybody can play through pain, or come back from an injury sooner than the next guy, that’s Kobe Bryant. Definitely. But it’s highly improbable. If Blake can keep things rolling with assists to the likes of Meeks & Hill, then for us to augment that with a stronger defensive effort than we played with the last time we played The Warriors a victory is possible. I haven’t heard of another game this year where Klay Thompson blitzed an opponent like he did The Lakers that last meeting. And it’s highly unlikely he will do it again, unless there is an exposed weakness in our roster where we don’t have the height & length necessary to keep him from successfully shooting over our defenders.

Enjoy the week of rest from Lakers basketball, everybody!

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