Exuberant Laker fans have rejoiced for weeks now over their 2012-2013 World Title. I mean, what’s not to celebrate, as the super team of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Dwight Howard went wire-to-wire, compiling the league’s best record during the regular season, and then steamrolling through the playoffs. What a season, what a team!
Not so fast – a dose of reality, please.
What I see is a slow-starting group of diverse talents starting a new season with serious injury concerns, and burdened with inferior coaching.
As the season tips off tonight, Kobe Bryant’s status is uncertain, as he battles a potentially debilitating foot injury. Kobe will want to play, Laker fans will want him to play, Mike Brown will need him to play, but he better not play. If he forces the issue to play tonight, or even in the next week or so, he may well be battling a lingering problem all season. If the team has those hopes that fans assume will be reality (see above) then he better stay on the bench now, until his foot is 100%.
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|Dwight Howard has played in two preseason games, as he struggles to return from major back surgery. No one really knows if he truly is ready to play a full NBA schedule, or if 35-40 minutes a game now will mean missed time later on. Also, there is that thing about him, you know, we’ve mentioned it before – the fact that he cannot hit a barn door from more than two feet away, let alone a basket from the free throw line. Lakers’ fans were forewarned that they could get what they wished for – a new center by the name of Howard that might well make them think of the good old days of Andrew Bynum.|
But, most of our concern about the upcoming season centers (pun intended) around another issue, an issue we’ve written a lot about lately concerning baseball and the Dodgers and Giants, the issue of who is coaching the team. The Lakers, like the Dodgers, are saddled with a non-entity, in Mike Brown. The team starts the season with not just injuries, but with new offensive schemes that they are totally unprepared to execute. The team also starts the season with a very questionable bench composed primarily of newly acquired journeymen who have seldom if ever distinguished themselves as real NBA players, and several of last year’s youngsters who have had so little playing time thanks to coach Brown, that they have progressed so little since the start of last season that any improvement is imperceptible. Brown is the wrong man for this job, and like the Dodgers’ and their $300 M payroll, they will never win unless a coaching change is made.
As far as tonight’s opener is concerned, the Laker’s second team should have a field day against the declining, under-matched Dallas Mavericks. Both Dirk Nowitski and new starting center Chris Kaman begin the season injured and on the bench, which means that massive Eddie Curry, who has averaged six games per season over the past four years, is now a starter, along with the massively over-rated dishonorable devious delinquent deviant and aptly named former trojan oj mayo. Gone are Jason Terry, Delonte West, Lamar Odom, Jason Kidd, and Brendan Haywood from last year’s team. Good luck in Dallas this year.
So, the bottom line is this. The Lakers, even without Kobe tonight, should roll over the Mavericks, but as for the season, they will end behind the Clippers, and until yesterday, we were sure behind Oklahoma City, in combined Western Conference standings, and will be unlikely to beat either, let alone both, in playoff competition. The Thunder’s trade of James Harden casts new questions on their season, however, and we need some time to consider that. One other word on the season endgame: They enter the season with major injury woes, but by the end of the season and entering the playoff, watch out for the Minnesota TImberwolves.