At this point in the season, what will be more of a surprise for the Los Angeles Lakers - success in the playoffs, or failure to reach the playoffs at all?
A road trip to an opponent that are 4-17 should be nothing more than a routine victory for a team like the Lakers, but rookie of the year Kyrie Irving made sure it would be another to forget for the Lakeshow.
The Lakers continue to baffle fans from across the NBA, and it appears that Mike D’Antoni has finally snapped.
After the game, an irritated D’Antoni addressed the press. Whilst being pressed by Los Angeles Times columnist T.J.Simers about the rumors that the Lakers watched movies instead of a much needed practice on their defense, he stated, “You’re beginning to piss me off.”
Defensively, the Lakers are among the worst in the league right now, and the reason is down to the team’s personnel and effort levels. The rotation that D’Antoni has in place is clearly not working at the moment, and signs are until the likes of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol return, and the return of Dwight Howard to his defensive player of the year form, the Lakers are going to continue to struggle.
Howard has had little impact so far despite having been one of the league’s best in prior seasons, although it is clear that he has to reach 100% fitness, so it is unfair to compare him to the Howard of the past.
D’Antoni has highlighted what we all can see is a major problem for the Lakers – turnovers, which against the Cleveland Cavaliers was at 13 in the first half.
Nash has hardly featured in the offense yet and due to his past relationship with D’Antoni, Lakers fans are hopeful of a more productive offense on his return.
Even if the offense becomes more profitable, it won’t address the defensive frailties that are so clearly visible. A franchise with the tradition of the Lakers should have no right giving away so many turnovers; I mean, even a team like the Charlotte Bobcats shouldn’t commit that many turnovers, as they are professional basketball players.
The Lakers are in trouble, and through the opening 20 games, the Lakers are on pace to not be make it to the playoffs. There is no defensive cohesion at all with Howard not delivering what Lakers fans wanted to see from his time with Orlando Magic.
Furthermore, the Western Conference is full of a lot of teams that have a deeper bench, younger roster and play in a style that best suits their needs.
We have seen D’Antoni getting stressed, but are the fans within their right to show displeasure so early on in his time in Los Angeles? I think so!
It was a brave decision by Mitch Kupchak to hire D’Antoni over the legendary Phil Jackson. It might be time that D’Antoni realizes that he is over his head and step down from his position.
What might scare Lakers fans is by viewing what is happening with his former team, New York Knicks, since D’Antoni’s departure from an average team who hadn’t won a playoff game for a decade, they are now one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
Mike Brown might not have been the option, but looking at Bernie Bickerstaff’s time as caretaker (he finished off at 5-1), could he have been a better one?
What if Jackson was appointed? We are never going to know how the Lakers would have shaped up, and if not even he could change the fortunes of this under-performing team. At least if Jackson was appointed and the Lakers were failing, then at least the world would be able to see that it is the players are the ones who need to fix up.
D’Antoni rubbished reports of movie-watching and that the defense was being worked on as he admitted there was half an hour practice put in. Maybe he has really shot himself in the foot with that statement - surely a struggling defense needs longer than half an hour of practice.