5 Biggest Disappointments for Los Angeles Lakers so Far
Mike D’Antoni’s 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers overcame early adversity with a 10-9 record to start the season, but a preposterous amount of injuries has led to a losing record in Lakerland. The Lakers have played admirably without Kobe Bryant and any point guard help (Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar are all hurt), but this campaign has still been filled with big disappointments.
Injuries, inefficient play and off-court antics have exemplified the lowlights through 2013-14. Bryant and Nash can’t stay healthy, Pau Gasol has struggled to regain the form he displayed two seasons ago and the roster is completely devoid of young talent D’Antoni could develop for the future.
The Lakers are in a dark place, and while the efforts of role players have given fans a reason to watch, the overall product has been fraught with frustration.
5. Six-Game Losing Streak
Again, the Los Angeles Lakers have been devastated by injuries throughout the 2013-14 season—more so than most NBA teams. That being said, the current six-game losing streak is still a huge disappointment.
With losses to the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers (at home) and Milwaukee Bucks (at home)—the latter in a blowout—the Lakers have reached an ugly low point. Those three teams have a combined record of 28-70.
Mike D’Antoni has been forced to make a multitude of adjustments this season beccause his players have dropped like flies due to injuries. He found workable lineups early, but nothing has worked during this losing skid.
Nick Young has scored 20 points or more in five of the six losses, but with a shooting percentage of 37.5 percent (42-of-112). He’s scoring points, but his efficiency has been very lackluster.
4. Mike D'Antoni's Comments
The 2013-14 Lakers season has been a disappointment, but Mike D’Antoni has done an admirable job putting a competitive product on the floor with the talent available.
Despite getting the most from guys like Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar, D’Antoni called himself an “idiot” for criticizing Lakers fans, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Following a 117-90 blowout loss against the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers coach said that if Lakers fans “are discouraged, they should find another team to root for.”
He backtracked on those comments by saying, “I was an idiot last night. I was out of my mind. I was ticked off.”
Although it makes sense for D’Antoni to try and save face with the fans, he makes a valid point. The majority of NBA fans have experienced good times and bad. Many Lakers fans have only felt the joy of winning—and winning championships.
Part of being a true fan is supporting your team through thick and thin. For the most part, that’s been a foreign concept to Lakers fans who have watched their favorite team win five championships since 2000.
It’s disappointing that fans are disgruntled, but it’s also disappointing that D’Antoni backtracked on his tough love stance.
The Lakers haven’t been winning consistently, but guys are still playing extremely hard. That alone deserves the fans' respect.
3. Steve Nash's Injury
Through the first six games of the Lakers season, Steve Nash averaged 6.7 points, 4.8 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game while shooting 38.5 percent from three-point range and just 26.1 percent from the field.
At that point, the two-time MVP was diagnosed with nerve root irritation in his back. He hasn’t returned to the court since.
When asked about a possible return Nash said, “I don’t know. I had three good days of practice and I could play right now, but we don’t really have any confidence that it’s sustainable,” according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. That article was published on Dec. 8.
It’s not Nash’s fault that his body is losing the battle with Father Time, but the Lakers gave up four draft picks to acquire him from the Phoenix Suns in 2012. Admittedly, that sign-and-trade deal has been a catastrophe for the Lakers.
Nash can be so great when healthy—especially under Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system. Unfortunately, the “when healthy” part continues to be a mystery.
That’s a huge disappointment for the Lakers faithful.
2. Pau Gasol's Lackluster Play
Following the worst season of Pau Gasol’s career in 2012-13, the big Spaniard has failed to return to form.
Gasol is averaging 15.1 points per game—an improvement from last year—but he’s shooting a career-worst 44.3 percent from the field.
He’s also continued to butt heads with head coach Mike D’Antoni, according to an article by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
“When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity,” Gasol said.
The 33-year-old was making excuses long before he started to suffer from a sinus infection and bronchitis (via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times). His illness has kept him out of two of the Lakers’ past three games.
The absence of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash left an opening for Gasol to carry this Lakers team. He’s had some bright moments, but the overall package has been admittedly lackluster.
As long as he continues to underperform, his name will continue to surface in trade rumors.
1. Kobe Bryant's Broken Leg
Nothing has been more disappointing for the Lakers this season than Kobe Bryant’s setback.
Following a grueling rehabilitation to return from a torn Achilles he suffered in April, the Black Mamba returned on Dec. 8 against the Toronto Raptors.
Bryant looked extremely rusty upon his return, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and eight turnovers.
He finally started to put the pieces back together in his sixth game back against the Memphis Grizzlies, but injury struck again. No. 24 hyperextended his knee in the third quarter and suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau. He’s expected to miss six weeks.
All told, Bryant averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 5.7 turnovers in six games before being sidelined again.
Bryant will be back. He said, “Only an idiot would (doubt me),” according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Having said that, it’s a huge disappointment that a living legend like Bryant will miss even more time. Nobody knows if he’ll ever be the same again.