5 Things LA Lakers Must Do to Reach Full Potential
I will start by telling you something you already know: The Los Angeles Lakers have been a huge disappointment this season.
After their insane offseason, a lot of fans had them either winning the Finals or coming in second. Now it's even hard to find a fan who thinks they will even make the playoffs.
The boat is sinking, and all of the NBA world is wondering what went wrong. More importantly, they are wondering how this all can be fixed.
Stats are accurate as of January 24, 2013
Keep Mike D'Antoni
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The first step to any team being successful is coaching stability. Coaches can't simply be swapped every time things aren't going the team's way.
Mike D'Antoni isn't the best coach in the NBA by any means, but he is not nearly as bad as the record makes it seem.
No matter how good the game plan is, no matter how thorough the practices, the team needs to go out on the floor and perform.
Simple fact is, the Lakers haven't done that. The team D'Antoni is running has been under-performing the entire season, before he came as well as after he arrived.
D'Antoni needs to be the stable presence that will lead the Lakers; there is no way around it now. The choice to hire him was made, and now all the front office can do is see what happens.
Get the Ball out of Kobe's Hands
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Some fans might need a quick double take at the title of this slide, and I understand the concern.
I don't have a problem with Kobe Bryant having the ball in his hands. I have a problem when he starts forcing terrible shots over multiple defenders and becomes a problem for the Lakers.
Unfortunately, Kobe is still not a willing passer, which leads my point, Kobe should not have the ball in his hands as often as he does.
With the Lakers struggling, Kobe has taken it upon himself to bring them back to the playoffs. While it may be hard to admit, Kobe has gotten older, and his stellar start to the year is a distant memory.
Here is a cool stat: In January, the Lakers are 0-10 when Kobe attempts more than 20 FGs a game. The two games he didn't were also the only two victories for Los Angeles in the month.
If this team is going to have any type of success going forward, it will have to be by relying on the other All-Stars on the roster.
Kobe needs to put the needs of the team ahead of his own. He will not lead this team anywhere but the lottery if he continues jacking up shots.
Well then, what's the alternative?
Give the Ball to Steve Nash
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Steve Nash is the man that needs to make the decisions each trip down the floor. The pick-and-roll, drive and dish, give and go or whatever the case may be.
Kobe needs to allow Nash to run the offense. With Mike D'Antoni there, this is the only way the Lakers can win games.
Nash didn't win two MVP's under D'Antoni by chance; the two are perfect together. This roster is also more of a fit for Nash than people may think.
Dwight and Gasol are both very good running the pick-and-roll, while Kobe keeps the defense honest. Kobe will still get isolation calls, but they will be more limited, and he will have plenty of open jumpers as well.
Metta World Peace can knock down the open three if needed, rounding out the lineup nicely. With that, the Lakers will be able to set the pace and become more efficient on the offensive end.
Also, with less pressure on Kobe on offense, we might get a chance to see "The Black Mamba" actually play some defense.
While he isn't the sole reason for the Lakers' defensive struggles, his lack of effort has definitely been a huge part of it.
Calm the Locker Room
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"A house divided against itself cannot stand."
This quote alone explains some of the issues the Lakers have faced. While the team meeting was a good idea, it is by no means a solution.
The players need to work out whatever is going on now, and focus on one objective: winning games.
Kobe and Dwight are said to be the two guys who are having issues with each other, and that can only end in an ugly way for the Lakers.
Dwight's contract is up this season, and I can't think of too many reasons for him to stay. Kobe only has a few more years in him; Dwight was brought in to be the future.
If Dwight and Kobe can't work it out, I only see one other solution.
Pull off a Major Trade
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If things stay the same, the only other thing the Lakers can do is trade away either Dwight or Pau. There is simply no way around it.
Trade rumors are swirling again, and I think the Lakers are just waiting until the last possible moment. Why would they want to trade Dwight unless it's absolutely necessary?
However, the losses are piling up, and that point of absolute necessity is coming. Gasol is another option for a trade, although his age and contract make him harder to move.
Either way, if the Lakers keep struggling, they will have to pull a trigger on a major trade that will definitely shake up the NBA (again).
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