The Los Angeles Lakers have gone through a decade’s worth of changes in less than six months. First, they landed Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns. Then they traded Andrew Bynum away for perennial all-star Dwight Howard. If that weren’t enough, the Lakers scrapped coach Mike Brown and his anemic hybrid Princeton offense five games into the season for Mike D’Antoni.
Typically veteran teams such as the Lakers would be able to adapt and adjust quickly from change, but with so many revisions the Lakers are still struggling to pick up yet another offensive scheme. Recently when the OC Register’s Kevin Ding asked D’Antoni about the offense, the head coach had this to say in response:
“No,” he said bluntly. “Next (question).”
“Within the numbers, there is some good stuff, defensively mostly,” D’Antoni said. “Stuff that in the long run will make us a contender. In the short run, our offense is anemic right now. We don’t move the ball, we don’t do a lot of things we should be doing and we have to figure that out.
“We have to get better than 77 points.”
D’Antoni’s assessment of the Lakers is spot on. The Lakers have the highest turnover rate in the NBA (17.2 per game; dead last in the league) and are one of the league’s worst free-throw shooting teams (.668, also last in the NBA). A team adjusting to a new system can’t afford to make these types of mental errors at such alarming rates.
Kobe Bryant, Howard and company are great players individually, but those types of mistakes would bury any team, hence the Lakers’ current 7-8 record.
Restructuring a team takes time, but the age of the Lakers key players doesn’t allow much time for patience. Things may improve once Nash returns from injury sometime this month, but the rest of the Lakers need to start showing some improvement on the mental errors soon or Nash’s return may not be enough to salvage the season.