Los Angeles Lakers: Can’t Teach An “Old Damn Team” New Tricks

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

“You just saw an old damn team, I don’t know how else to put it to you.” - Kobe Bryant

There is a popular saying about how the Los Angeles Lakers manage to contend for a title every year. “The Lakers don’t draft. They re-load.” After a sluggish 15-16 start to the 2012-2013 season, they may want to find some new ammunition to load that gun.

The aforementioned “reload” philosophy hasn’t quite worked for this current Lakers team. They admittedly look old, sluggish and incapable of putting up an all-out effort on a consistent basis. Since 2005, the Lakers have continued to woo many free agents to play alongside Kobe Bryant, and results have been mainly positive since (2 rings). The addition of Pau Gasol and a healthy Andrew Bynum instantly made the Lakers a championship contender for the last 5 years. Oddly, the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the Lakers’ look lost and frustrated. Why is that?

Simply put, You can’t teach a dog old new tricks. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system demands an uptempo, high scoring style with wing players running the lanes. Kobe is 34. Nash is 38. Metta World Peace is 33. Gasol and Howard are injured, and while agile for their size, are not exactly gazelles on the floor. The losing trend we’ve seen for the entire year is that the Lakers are simply being out-hustled by younger teams in the league. Its hard to rely on experience when your system dictates you score more, pass less and think less in the process. You could blame age, but the New York Knicks are successful despite the average age of everyone on their team being 32. The Knicks’ system works around their talent. The Lakers are the complete opposite.

The lack of communication, especially on the defensive end, is really hurting the Lakers. Every Lakers starter has complained at one point about the lack of communication when it comes to rotations, assignments and spacing. It’s difficult to communicate when you have younger, more athletic teams running you off the floor every night. The Lakers’ transition defense is among the worst in the league, and have given up eight additional points per game in D’Antoni’s tenure.

This current Lakers roster holds only three players they have drafted out of 15, including Bryant.  There isn’t a reliable long term solution for the Lakers after Bryant retires within the next two years. Howard can opt-out for free agency after this season. If the Lakers are serious about succeeding in a league where athleticism is evolving the game, they are going to have to obtain younger talent, and develop it around Howard (if he stays). Bryant was a 6th man for his first two years in the league as a Laker. It can be done, and the long term benefits could prove fruitful over time.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks may be true, especially if the tricks aren’t being executed consistently.

So, that “reload” philosophy may apply to the owner shooting the old dog?

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