The Los Angeles Lakers need time, not change.
As difficult as that may be to accept, it is the truth. Even as the Lakers have lost six consecutive games and sit at 15-21, the need in Los Angeles is not a change in personnel.
To be fair, we must acknowledge the situation at hand. By "situation," of course, we mean the colossal meltdown that has transpired for players in purple and gold—one that seems to get only worse by the minute.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles reports that reserve center Jordan Hill has suffered a season-ending hip injury. Although he will be getting a second opinion, Hill will miss roughly half of calendar year.
In other words, the rest of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Jordan Hill says he's "heartbroken" over his season-ending injury. Expects to miss about 6 months—Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 12, 2013
Just as the frontcourt looked like it couldn't get weaker, it has.
A 50-win season is now attainable only by going 35-11 during their final 46 games. To get 45 wins, the Lakers would have to win 30 of 46. But in order to reach either of those marks, they will have to win without Hill, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Fortunately for the Lakers, the latter two will return.
At some point.
The Lakers clearly have the talent to go on a tear and make noise in the playoffs. If they don't display a sense of urgency, however, their collection of talent will mean nothing.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni is well aware of that fact.
D’Antoni said to the team: “Our season starts Sunday.” Acknowledged there is obviously no more room for error.—Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 12, 2013
As for whether or not D'Antoni's wishes can be met, history states it is rather unlikely—that is, if you believe in the mantra, "the numbers never lie."
ESPN Stats & Info has your reason for concern.
Lakers have never finished .500 or better after starting 15-21 or worse. Last time they started 15-21 or worse & made playoffs was 1966-67.—ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 12, 2013
The Lakers need to hope the numbers are a lie. Otherwise, this season is all but over.
With that being said, faith has not been lost within the locker room.
Players Still Believe
In order to reach the postseason, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to need a miracle. Fortunately, the players still believe that miracles are possible.
In fact, if you ask Metta World Peace, overcoming adversity is nothing new for the Lakers.
Metta World Peace on the Lakers making the playoffs: "So many times we've done the impossible. That's what we got to do"—Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 12, 2013
Whether you believe it or not, MWP's confidence has to inspire hope.
Most encouraging of all is that World Peace isn't alone in this belief. In fact, there is one very important individual that has not lost his faith, either:
Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant.
Kobe says he's "way too stubborn" to believe the Lakers won't make the playoffs.—chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) January 12, 2013
If the players believe it can happen, why doubt their ability to bring that dream to fruition?
Let Them Stay, Let Them Play
Instead of forcing the Lakers into a system of Xs and Os, why not just let them play?
It may be a distant memory, but—as those who have watched every game this season know—there was a window earlier this year in which the Lakers were winning consistently. In fact, their only loss during this stretch came by a score of 84-82 against the San Antonio Spurs.
This period of time is known as "the Bernie Bickerstaff era."
As nice as it would be, this is not to suggest that the Lakers name Bickerstaff as their head coach. Instead, it is to acknowledge the one thing that we can all agree on as fact: The Lakers were flat out dominant when they were not stuck in and disrupted by an inefficient system.
The Lakers are not just elite because of their talent; they're also a team made up of established veterans. Two league MVPs, six All-Stars and two Defensive Player of the Year Award winners, to be exact.
So why force them to change their approach to the game?
D'Antoni may be an offensive mastermind, but there comes a point in time in which experience breeds realization. Instead of changing the team, why not alter the approach and let the team run freely? With Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash running the offense, the points will come. With Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace running the defense, an opponent's points will be prevented.
Until that day comes, however, we must be patient. The time for change is not yet upon us, but one thing is: a never-ending feeling of urgency.