Most people expected it to take awhile for the Los Angeles Lakers to gel this season. This is a team that was somewhat thrown together in the off-season, and one that fired its head coach only five games into the season. I was that guy saying people were overreacting and that the Lakers would be fine. Well, that hasn’t been the case at all.
As we sit one week away from the All-Star break, the unofficial half-way point of the season, the Lakers are (23-27) and in 10th place in the Western conference. Add in the fact that Pau Gasol is out for six weeks with a foot injury and that Dwight Howard is playing with a torn labrum, and things are about to get desperate in L.A. (not like things weren’t already in a bad place).
So are the Lakers dead?
The answer is no, but this team is on life support. Losing Gasol is a huge blow, but you’d think with three top-tier players still in the starting lineup that they could make do. I guess I just don’t see this team missing the playoffs, there’s still too much talent on the roster to not make it in. But making it in is all I expect from the Lakers at this point. This team is nowhere near championship-caliber, and we all know it’s title or bust for this squad.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard situation, where Kobe may or may not have called out Howard to play through his shoulder pain. Obviously, it’s very tough to determine someone’s pain threshold, but with all the known players that have played through the same injury, one has to wonder.
I’ve always looked at Howard as a mental-midget. I just don’t view him as someone who’s mentally tough or as a player who’s going to grit it out to get a win. He just comes across as a guy who’s checked out half the time. Add in the fact that he may not even like playing in Los Angeles, and I can easily see a scenario where he shuts it down for the rest of the season. Maybe I’m wrong about Howard, but I just don’t see him rising above this injury.
So without Gasol, and without Howard playing his best basketball, the Lakers have no chance. Sure they have two future hall-of-famers with Steve Nash and Bryant, but they’re too old to get it done alone. It’s sounds harsh, but it’s true.
I’m going to wait until after the All-Star break to make my final analysis of the Lakers, but at this point they’re just waiting for someone to pull the plug.