Thursday, January 24, 2013

AN IDIOT'S GUIDE TO THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS' SEASON: Part II




Dan Plotsky



(Plotsky continues his assessment of the Los Angeles Lakers by offering more advise in terms of philosophical changes on offense, defense, and possible future trades. It is worth reiterating that Plotsky is not a Lakers' fan).

Kirk Hinrich!” These were the only words Marv Albert and Steve Kerr could manage to spew out last night, as Captain Kirk effectively destroyed Steve Nash's ankles on every pick and roll situation.  It would be a disservice if I didn't touch on defense when talking about the L.A. Lakers.  Remember, the Lakers were supposed to be the better team; whereas, we found out, the Chicago Bulls were the better team.  

The chain reaction is simple: Nash jumps the pick over the top and as Hinrich drives the lane, Dwight Howard steps up to defend.  If Hinrich does his job right, he looks to the weak side under the hoop first behind Howard and then to the weak side wing as he penetrates.  The Bulls dominated the Lakers on this simple, offensive strategy using a combination of superior speed and floor spacing by taking Howard out of the play and scoring on the slow, Lakers’ defensive rotations.  

Next time, watch the Bulls frontcourt rotate under the basket.  Someone is always helping the helper and forces the opposing offense to take a bad shot or kick the ball back to the top of the key.  It's no mere coincidence the Lakers’ defense has taken a huge hit this year as Nash has been ineffective at stopping the ball around the three point line and it only gets worse when the Lakers play more athletic point guards like—oh, I don’t know--Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul.  

To combat this predicament, the Lakers have stuck Kobe on Nash's man when the match up is too one-sided for Nash to handle.  This defensive modification results in Kobe exerting more energy than normal and leaving less for the offensive side of the ball, which has led to his recent offensive struggles despite his most efficient season ever.  Throw in a coach who seldom plays a bench and this team is wearing down against athletic teams on a nightly basis.  

I offer three solutions:

·     Mike D'Antoni ditches his offense and commits to Pau Gasol and Howard both playing down low with both players passing out of the post and Nash running less penetration offense and spotting up to shoot more.  This is the most unlikely solution to happen as the Lakers would have to play Nash/Chris Duhon/Kobe/Gasol/Howard lineup.  They would need Steve Blake to come back from injury in order to do this.
·     They trade Gasol for a combination of athleticism and shooting which was the first rumored deal of Gasol for Josh Smith/Kyle Korver.  This would have been perfect if D'Antoni didn't crush Gasol's trade value (also, don’t take away the fact that Howard is from Georgia and the Hawks, albeit, would be hesitant to give up J-Smoove, have shown interest in bringing back Howard to his home state—Ed).  
·         They keep Gasol, move him back to center and deal Howard. This is the most intriguing idea because I know teams would very much love to roll the dice on Howard and leave the Lakers with good salary cap space when Gasol comes off the books next year.  The rumor would be Howard to the Brooklyn Nets, Brook Lopez to the Minnesota T’Wolves, and Kevin Love to the Lakers.  This gives the Lakers a younger rebounder who can also stretch the floor with 3-point range, while allowing Gasol to operate down low.  
 
I love it!  That is to say, if I were actually a Lakers’ fan.  

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