Why It's Still Too Soon to Sound the Alarm for 0-3 Los Angeles Lakers
They were coming off of one of the most memorable offseasons in NBA history, pulling off the acquisition of two-time MVP Steve Nash, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and two-time All-Star Antawn Jamison.
In turn, many billed the Lakers as the favorites to take home the Western Conference championship, likely squaring off with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Despite the allure of paper rosters, this is why we play the games.
With a 105-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers have fallen to 0-3 on the young regular season. In those three losses, the Lakers have allowed an average of 106.7 points per game and scored an average of just 97.3 points.
To say that the superteam experiment has failed early on is an understatement. Just don't jump the gun so soon, folks.
The Los Angeles Lakers will be just fine.
Offense Worse than Acknowledged
During the Lakers' 105-95 loss to the Clippers, Steve Blake and Metta World Peace combined for 16 field-goal attempts. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, meanwhile, combined for 16 as well.
What is the Lakers' greatest issue?
With that painful fact being acknowledged, there is no way to justify claims that the Lakers offense is not the problem. It is a major piece of the problem.
The Lakers are averaging 97.3 points per game. Although that number is solid, they're losing by an average margin of 9.3 points per game.
The offensive output just isn't enough. Who is shooting the ball just so happens to be why.
Antawn Jamison was brought in to become the lead scorer for an otherwise pedestrian second unit. Through three games, however, Jamison has attempted just eight field goals and scored 11 points.
That's 11 total points on eight total field-goal attempts. Metta World Peace had 10 shot attempts against the Clippers alone.
The only player who is shooting at an expected pace is Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, who has never been afraid to pull the trigger, has attempted 57 shots in three games. He's connected on 61.4 percent of those attempts and has posted an average of 30.7 points per game.
Take that, biased detractors who cry over volume shooting!
Where is the Defense?
Dwight Howard may have blocked five shots against the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Lakers continue to play horrendous team defense. From poor communication on rotations to inadequate levels of pressure on the ball, the Lake Show is being tormented all over the court.
Their greatest weakness may be from beyond the arc, where the Lakers have allowed opponents to make 43.1 percent of their three-point attempts. Over the past two games alone, L.A. has given up 17 three-pointers.
Furthermore, the Lakers are committing an average of 22.0 turnovers per game over their past two outings. They're averaging 19.3 on the season, which pales in comparison to the 11.3 they're forcing out of the opposition.
Not only are the Lakers coughing up the rock, but they're doing absolutely nothing to get the ball back.
This burden rests on the shoulders of both the interior and perimeter defenders. Without an elevated effort from both groups, the Lakers will continue to plummet down the ranks of the Western Conference's elite.
That is, if they ever win enough games to reach said level.
Afraid to Step on Toes
Talk about their abysmal offense or non-existent defense all you'd like.
The No. 1 reason the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to win a single game this season is because the players are too afraid to play their games. They don't know how it will impact the emotions of their teammates. Well, unless we're speaking about Kobe Bryant.
You know, the guy who is averaging 30.7 points on 61.4 percent shooting from the floor. What do you have to say now, outspoken Kobe haters who claim volume shooting?
Sorry, just had to say that one more time.
The truth is, the Lakers look much like the 1992 Dream Team at the Tournament of the Americas. Although the star power is there, the players simply do not know how to function with each another due to their untamed mix of entitlement and selflessness.
A healthy Steve Nash would certainly go a long way toward fixing said issues; he too has struggled mightily through two games, averaging just 4.0 assists and appearing incapable of threading the needle as he had in 2011-12.
Fortunately for Mike Brown and Co., all of these issues can be fixed.
All Fixable Issues
Why shouldn't we be sounding the alarm on the 0-3 Los Angeles Lakers? Mainly due to the fact that each and every one of their issues can be fixed with repetition and experience.
After all, the issue isn't that the individuals can't play; it's that they haven't learned how to play with each another.
The Princeton offense is complex. For that reason alone, there is an expected learning curve for a handful of players who have never played together at all, let alone within this system.
Beyond the concepts, however, is the mere fact that the players are like strangers taking the court for the first time together. In turn, there is no chemistry between players that carries a heavy burden of expectations.
In due time, we will see the Los Angeles Lakers that we expected to take over the Western Conference. After all, they can't go 0-82.
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