It’s a great time to be a Clipper fan in Los Angeles these days, isn’t it? A huge win over the hated Spurs, a relatively uneventful victory over the Portland Trailblazers only a few hours later, and a monster-in-the-closet looming Diondre Jordan to push us into the true elite…
But, of course, leave it to the Lakers to push us out of the spotlight with their latest soap opera, featuring the firing of Mike Brown and the DUI of Devin Ebanks. Thank goodness for Ebanks the Brown story broke.
Without regard to one’s personal politics, remember how the media kept reporting that Mitt Romney had closed the gap on Barack Obama in the final weeks of the campaign? How all the talking heads predicted a close race, with the media jumping on and reporting that Romney could actually win? Absolute BS as Obama won handily. It was all spin, no substance. The entire election cycle (highlighted by Nate Silver’s statistically driven poll tracking), showed Obama leading EVERY SINGLE DAY right up until the Tuesday election. I’m not saying that Mitt Romney isn’t a competent, nice enough fellow, but he and his team just never had a shot against a savvy political heavyweight like Barack Obama.
This is the 2012-13 Lakers. A team that’s been “spun” into a championship contender. They have some great players, undoubtedly, but are they challengers to the Thunder, Heat, and dare I say, the Clippers?
Let me go on record saying that firing Mike Brown, who was probably never a great fit in the first place, will not right the floundering purple and gold ship. Neither will Phil Jackson, or Mike D’Antoni, or anyone else brought in to take his place. In fact, the Lakers are basketball’s version of Mitt Romney in reverse; a team that’s all flash and light on substance with a campaign team (Brown and his coaching staff) attempting to somehow fool the fans into believing they can win it all, keep Dwight Howard, and return to the glory days of Magic, Shaq, Pat, and Phil.
But I digress. First, let’s rewind a bit and examine the latest dream team composition:
First and foremost, there’s the leftovers from last year, starting with Kobe Bryant. Though still capable of throwing up oodles of shots and scoring tons of points, his ability to drive, defend, and work off the ball has declined. After logging over 42562 minutes in 1166 games and counting, it is simply unrealistic to believe Bryant can continue to defend (much less score) with the intensity he used to. In fact, taking the defensive deficiencies further, through the first five games, according to Hoopdata, only ONE Laker starter – Dwight Howard – ranks in the TOP FIFTY in defensive efficiency. As for the rest, Metta World Peace is no longer a shut-down defender, being beaten constantly by quicker and stronger players, while Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have never been considered top tier defenders. Indeed, one of the most glaring weaknesses of this so-called juggernaut is Nash himself, who is one of the worst defenders in the league, period. As rosters shrink come playoffs, how were the Lakers planning to win with a four on five lineup, defensively over grueling seven game series against teams like the Spurs and/or Clippers?
As for the Lakers bench, where does one begin to dissect how bad it truly is? Starting with backup point guard Steve Blake, all the way down through Darius Morris, Jody Meeks, Devin Ebanks, Chris Dujon, and Antawn Jamison, this collection scares no one. In fact, through the first five games of this young season, they have been collectively outscored 148-75 (with Detroit actually padding the numbers here) and rank dead last. The Clippers bench, by contrast, is now 4th and rising. Jamal Crawford is a downright sensation, and paired with Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf (not to mention Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups who will soon be coming off injuries), this unit terrifies the entire league.
Switching over to offense, earlier today ESPN Radio and Laker Commentator John Ireland was pining for a “Showtime” approach, with Nash leading an uptempo, “7 seconds or less” Kamikaze type onslaught, with a more free flowing, impromptu attack. First, exactly how do you get out and run with a team as old and slow as the Lakers? Does Ireland really think their mostly over-30 bodies are going to fly down the court, with a an almost-40 point guard leading the way? And then get back on defense to prevent the same from happening the other direction?
In truth, this year’s Lakers are actually worse than the team bounced by the Thunder in last season’s playoffs. Like Mitt Romney, they never really had a chance and to blame Mike Brown for this mess is to ignore their flawed candidates from an objective standpoint. Like Fox News peddling Mitt Romney, the Lakers brain trust is peddling Koolaid to their delusional fans who dream of quick championships much as Yankee lovers for their baseball team. In reality, though, the best they can hope for now is to somehow keep the fickle Dwight Howard interested in sticking around, try to steal CP3 or another top tier point guard over next summer (or by the trade deadline), and relaunch for next season. As Mitt Romney was fated to lose, the Lakers are on the same path.