Heading into the upcoming season, Lakers’ fans seem to have pervasive clouds of gloom enveloping their basketball brain cells. Funny, that’s how I felt last season, a season whose events I saw coming and for which I was fully prepared. While injuries will make things difficult at the outset of the season this year, I see a much better year on the horizon.
Deee-Wight was NEVER, I repeat, NEVER going to fit in. Really, his demeanor demonstrated the fact the he NEVER wanted to fit in. The laughing man displayed absolutely no evidence that he cared how well the team did, and while he was a defensive demon, his play on the offensive end was in one word, putrid. I can count on one hand the number of shots he made from more than two feet from the basket, and his characteristic reaction to most missed shots was a smiling, laughing saunter down the court.
who never really got a shot in two seasons, Darius Morris and Devin Ebanks, and a few other slugs. The one and only departing player the team will miss is Earl Clark, who is not a starting NBA player as the Cavaliers will find out, but who would have been a valuable reserve had he stayed with the healthier and deeper 2013-4 Lakers.
Instead, the Lakers now feature a group of talented newcomers who will instill a new attitude and a desire to win. A healthy Chris Kaman will produce more for this team than Deee-Wight did, providing solid, though unspectacular, defense, rebounding, and consistent offense. He also shot a career high 78.8% from the free throw line last season, and is 74.4% lifetime. In only 20 minutes per game last season, he averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 boards, compared to Deee-Wight’s 17.4 and 12.4 in almost double the minutes.
|The multi-talented Wesley Johnson will get the first real shot of his career, and I see him showing just why he was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. Much of the same can be said of Xavier Henry, who was a dynamite player at Kansas and the 12th pick in that same draft. Here’s hoping that he will be Kobe’s early season replacement, and not the more likely and far less talented Jodie Meeks.
However, the new guy – not really a newcomer but rather a returner – who should make the biggest impact, is Jordan Farmar. Steve Nash is a year older
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and there is no reason to believe that he will play any more minutes that he did last season. Steve Blake, who I see perhaps not even making the team, is also a walking injury, and at 33 a big question mark as to reliability. Enter Farmar, who at 26 has been around the league, has now had international experience, and is a super athlete, outstanding shooter, and more than competent point guard. He will earn significant playing time behind Nash, and be the starter more often than not, when Nash is injured.
|Finally, as i wrote after the draft, Ryan Kelly was a perfect pick for the Lakers and for Mike D’Antoni’s system. That combination of height, 6’11″ and outstanding outside shooting is the perfect complement to the power and penetration we’ll see from Kaman and Pau Gasol, and from Kobe, Johnson, Henry, and Farmar.|
This team will run, and run, and shoot, and actually, unlike the past couple of years, play some team defense. Hopefully they can avoid a slow start due to Kobe’s injury and the foot surgery that likely will delay the start of Kelly’s NBA career. A year ago at this time, I was super high on the Clippers and expecting nothing from the Lakers. Now, however, I really dislike much of what the Clippers’ did this off season, save for the trade for their new coach, and I think the new Lakers are ready to take back LA’s top spot in pro hoops.