Dumping of the Psycho & Other Moves Paying Off For Lakers

In his last five games with the Knicks, the meta tag psycho artest thing has shot 17% (five-of-29), collected eight rebounds, one steal, three blocks, has not attempted a single free throw, and has committed one foul every six minutes. For the season, he is averaging seven points and 0.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 38% and a foul every eight and two-thirds minutes. He is now playing caddy to the immortal Iman Shumpert, who in those same last five games has outscored him 23 points to 11, shooting almost twice as well at 33%

The 3-11 Knicks are in last place in the Atlantic Division, and have lost their last seven games in a row.

By contrast, the 8-8 Lakers are one game out of second place in the Pacific Division, and the psycho’s replacement, Wesley Johnson, is averaging 7.4 points and shooting 55% with

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13 rebounds and 8 steals in 25 minutes per game over his last five games. He has fouled only once every 12-1/2 minutes. Johnson, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, is getting better every game, making up very quickly for his first three disappointing NBA seasons. At 26, he has a seemingly unlimited career ahead of him, in contrast to the few remaining threads of here and there playing time the soon-to-be 35 year old psycho will get. Johnson also earns only a bit less

than 2/3 of the psycho’s salary.

The new-look Lakers, an exciting and deep group of motivated athletes, have yet to show the basketball world just how much better they are than last year’s team of somnambulistic dullards, but they are getting there. The shedding from their ranks of the psycho was almost as vital to their future success as ridding themselves of Mr. Ego, the laughing man, Deee-Wight Howard.

Steve Nash is not the cancer that the psycho or Deee-Wight is. Rather, he is a great player

who puts winning above his own well-being, but who is a 39 year old whose body is no longer up to the rigors of NBA play. Since he has been out, the team has gelled, not just with Johnson doing so well, but the same can be said for many others, in particular Jordan Farmar at back up point guard to Nash’s replacement, Steve Blake. These two have given the team

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the best point guard play they have had in several years, and Farmar in particular needs much more playing time as he seems to play better and better the more he plays, and to keep him as happy to play in Los Angeles was he was during the offseason to be able to return to Los Angeles. The way he is playing, if he is not assured of significant court time, and a commensurate salary going forward, he’ll be starting and playing 38 minutes a game for another team next season.

The exciting and motivated Lakers should continue to improve thanks to no psycho, no Deee-Wight, thanks to having Johnson and Farmar, and thanks to the impending return of one Kobe B. Bryant.

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