Lakers Limp Home From Wasted Week in China

The Lakers’ trip to China is about over, with the team 1) having wasted important pre-season prep time and 2) having been thoroughly embarrassed in two losses to the Golden State Warriors.

Individually, highlights included excellent play from Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Farmar, poor play from Nick Young and Shawne Williams, and maybe most important of all, the first glimpse on the court of draft pick Ryan Kelly.

The 6′ 11′ Kelly now appears basically recovered from his foot surgery, as he played about 12 minutes per game, and he showed hints of his excellent touch from behind the arc, hitting two of three threes in the first game. The foursome of Gasol, Kaman, Kelly

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and Jordan Hill manning the four and five spots could give the team scoring, rebounding, and reasonably good defense, and an immensely better winning desire and attitude over last season, when the Ego Man took up space in the middle, as he laughed off bad plays and missed free throws.

Speaking of defense, hopefully Mike D’Antoni is getting his fill of the lackadaisical play of nick young. The former trojan brain surgeon has been a streak shooter, in the early games seemingly winning a spot

with his scoring, but his total lack of defensive ability, or desire to play defense, makes him an overall liability, and he deserves neither a starting spot at the three, where a healthy Wesley Johnson should start, nor as the early season place holder for Kobe at shooting guard, a spot that should go either to last season’s holdover Jodie Meeks, or to a potential star finally getting his game together, Xavier Henry. Henry has made steals, he’s

blocked shots, he’s rebounded, he’s played defense, and he’s hit 56% on three point attempts. He can’t do too much more than all that to earn a shot. Starting Steve Blake at the two should not be a regular season option. With the likelihood of Steve Nash averaging 15 minutes per game, and with Blake’s own history of injuries, he

and Farmar have to to available for that other 30+ minutes per game at point guard.

If young makes the roster, that would be four different teams in four season for him, and that sort of movement doesn’t happen without a reason. Playing time for young would create a major regression in the Lakers’ team defense, which has started to look decent (this morning’s fiasco in China aside), following the total lack of defense that the team flaunted last season.

Back to REAL work next week, as the season approaches.

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