As the L.A. Lakers enter the All-Star break, they find themselves at their lowest point of the season. They have just lost to the NBA’s worst team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lakers fans are left asking themselves, "Where do we go from here?" Many indications point that this might be the end of the epic Lakers run as champions.
The Lakers are still a very good team, but they might no longer be the best team in the NBA. There might be too many things that stand in the Lakers’ way this season.
The 10 reasons the Lakers will not be champions in 2011 are…
The Lakers season has been a season full of streaks, good and bad. They have had win streaks as long as 10 games and losing streaks as long as four games.
Currently, the Lakers are on a three-game losing streak going into the All-Star break. The upcoming schedule doesn’t appear easy either, as they will play Atlanta, Portland, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Oklahoma City, all in the span of just six days.
The main reason for this inconsistency has been the offense. The Lakers offense has been known to stall on occasions. This is mostly due to the team playing without a true point guard.
They don’t have a real floor general, so there is no specific player that keeps the offense in rhythm.
A great way to break out of an offensive slump is to get easy buckets off turnovers. There is nothing better for the confidence than poking the ball away, setting up an easy jam.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, causing turnovers is not their strong point. They rank just 19th in opponent turnovers with 13.7 per game.
Because they rely more on defensive stops, it doesn’t allow the Lakers to create favorable matchups in transition. If the Lakers want to improve their offensive production, it might be smart to try to start get some turnovers and easy baskets to improve their confidence.
Like the last few seasons, the Western Conference is loaded this year. The inconsistency of the Lakers could mean trouble come playoff time.
Teams 1-8 in the West can burn you on any given night.
If they Lakers have a few down games in a row, it could blow an entire series for them. No playoff team in the West will be an easy out.
This postseason will probably be the toughest test the Lakers have had during their recent run of championships. But, don’t think it gets any easier after the Western Conference championship gauntlet.
Not only is Andrew Bynum injury prone, but he is also overrated. Lakers fans seem to believe that Bynum is one of the best centers in the NBA.
I’m sorry, but 11 points and seven boards do not seem that impressive to me.
What makes the Lakers so tough is their length. It is a tall task to go up against a team that starts two towers in Bynum and Gasol.
The Lakers need Bynum to elevate his game if they want to win a championship this season. He is the "X-factor" on this team.
There is only one team in the NBA with more star power than the L.A. Lakers, and that is the Miami Heat.
The Lakers best asset in big games is Kobe Bryant. Kobe is one of the best all time at closing games, but he has to do it all by himself.
The Heat have two great closers—Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. James and Wade give the Heat two options late in games to hit the big shot.
If these two teams meet in the NBA Finals, it is possible that the Lakers will have finally met their match. James and Wade could have a chance to kill the Lakers dynasty and then start one of their own.
In the last three seasons, the Lakers have had to deal with a lack of depth, and this season is no different. Lamar Odom might be the best sixth man in the NBA, but after him, it is looking bleak.
Steve Blake has been less than impressive, Barnes is inconsistent and injury prone and Shannon Brown can be a bit of a loose cannon. All together, you have one of the most dysfunctional benches in the NBA.
If the Lakers want to make a run for a third straight championship, they need to trade for a true inside presence—someone who can block shots and grab boards coming off the bench.
It is no secret that the fans are not happy with Ron Artest’s performance as a Laker. He is averaging just eight points and three boards this season, both career lows for Artest.
Artest used to be one of the best lock-down defenders in the NBA. Now, he is just a slow defender with a bad attitude.
I believe the Lakers need to move Ron Artest. He hurts the team more than he helps right now.
Are we witnessing the untimely decline of Kobe Bryant? It appears that it might be imminent—Kobe is not the same player he used to be.
That is not to say that Kobe isn’t a great player. He is probably the best player of our generation, if not the best player in NBA history.
But his body might be breaking down at the age of 32.
Bryant is averaging 25 points and is shooting just .315 from beyond the arch—both numbers are his lowest since 2001.
Kobe can still dominate a game and will his teams to victories, but his days might be numbered. After 14 seasons, Kobe might not have too much left.
The Lakers need to get Kobe another sidekick—he wont be able to do it by himself for much longer.
The Celtics might have their best team since the “Big Three” arrived in Boston. They have split with the Lakers (1-1) this season.
One cannot help but think about another Celtics vs. Lakers series this season. But, can the Lakers make it three straight on their rivals?
I don’t think they can.
The Celtics are loaded at every position and Rajon Rondo has developed into one of the most dominating point guards in the NBA. The Celtics might pose a tough matchup for the Lakers if they meet again in the NBA Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in all of the NBA and are 2-0 vs. the Lakers thus far, with two more meetings to come. In both games, the Spurs contained Kobe and would not let him take over the game.
The Spurs have a reputation of elevating their game in the playoffs—this could be bad news for the Lakers, because the Spurs have had their number as of late.
San Antonio is probably the biggest obstacle the Lakers have to get by if they want to win their third straight championship. If they can get by San Antonio, then they will prove they are still a championship-caliber squad.